Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If you have, you know that it can cause frustration, depression, anger and some fear. Fear that you may never write again.
I understand….because I’ve been there!
There were literal months when I could not sit down and write. And one of the biggest things that I’ve done to help me combat writer’s block was to befriend my inner editor. Today I’m going to share three ways you can work WITH your inner editor rather than let them work AGAINST you.
Personify your inner editor
To start, choose an image that personifies that inner negative voice that you have. I use Tarot cards for this, but you can use an image out of a magazine or Pinterest. You can even draw a picture of what you think your inner editor looks like – just have something visual that you can use to talk to your inner editor.
Communicate with them
I personally start this step in a journal, but you can also type it out in a document, talk out loud to your image, or even film yourself so you can take notes later. Get comfortable, look at your image and start asking questions
- Why are you such a pain in my butt?
- Why are you giving me such trouble?
- Why do you cause me issues so I can’t even sit down to write?
Ask these questions and then wait for the answers. Yes, this seems silly, but we do this with our characters right? Personifying your inner editor, creating that character, allows you to talk to them and start befriending them, as if they were in one of your novels.
Hopefully these answers can help you understand your inner editor, your negative voice, a little better. I have a theory that our inner critics are actually there to help us, but they don’t know how to do that, so they take the little bit of fear and self-doubt we already feel and amplify it to get our attentions like that’s magically going to make things better, but it doesn’t help! This process will help you talk to your voice and let them actually help you in a way that works for you.
My inner editor, who I call Dude, told me that he gets upset when I don’t write enough details in first draft – but that’s not important to me, so we had to talk awhile and I made him feel like I heard him and that I will come to him during 2nd and 3rd drafts to help me add in the missing detail. He’s really good at that stuff too.
So, ask some questions, get some answers and write down all that good information. Ask some more questions, get some more answers and keep digging until you feel pretty good about what your inner voice is trying to tell you.
Ask them what they are good at
Now that you have that baseline communication done, you feel like you’re understanding each other a bit more, now you can ask them what they are good at, what they can help you with.
You might already have come up with some ideas during your initial conversion, like I did with the details, but if not just ask them. They might be great with settings and world building, names, or remembering things that are hard for you – like hair or eye color of characters. Maybe your inner editor really wants to help when you are all finished and starting the marketing and publishing process.
If you don’t get an answer right away, that’s fine – jot the question down on a post it note or index card and pay attention as you go about your normal writing sessions. I bet you good money that voice will pop up at some point and tell you what you are doing wrong, or what they might be able to do better, and that’s the golden nugget – that’s the information that will help you decide what jobs you can give them.
Process takes time
Just like any friendship, this process isn’t going to happen overnight. It can take weeks, months, even years to get into the perfect rhythm with your inner editor, but just starting this process can help unlock some new things within your brain that will help keep writer’s block at bay. And the card or image you chose might change as you and your inner voice keep working together. I’ve been doing this work for almost a decade and I just recently changed the card I use for my Dude, one that’s more playful and colorful and feels more like the relationship we have now – so don’t feel like you have to get the perfect or right image, just find one that resonates with you now and start talking to them.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried this how did the process work for you? And if this is something you might be interested in learning more about, stick around, because I will be teaching a class on this subject with an amazing writer friend of mine in January 2023!!