As you near the beginning of your third week of NaNoWriMo, you look at what you wrote with disgust. None of this makes any sense! You say to yourself as you furiously press the Backspace button, there’s a dangling modifier here, a run-on sentence there, and this isn’t even a word! I know exactly what you’re going through; I too, have an English degree, and every NaNo I participate in, it gets harder to calm my Inner Editor. I have a few tried-and-true methods that I use throughout the month in order to get through the month without pulling all my hair out and eating all the leftover Halloween chocolates. Here’s five ways I calm my Inner Editor during NaNoWriMo:
- Hide what you’re writing. If you want to take it to the extreme, simply hide whatever you’re writing from your prying Inner Editor. There are a number of apps and programs you can download that will help you write away, but I’m willing the vast majority of us are using free programs like Google Docs or good old pen and paper to write our novels this year. If you’re using a computer program like Word or Google Docs, simply make your font a light color that is difficult to see, and if you’re hand-writing, simply use another piece of paper to cover your work. This way, your Inner Editor can’t even see what you’re doing, let alone tell you how to change it.
- Tell your Inner Editor to “shut up and let me finish this!” This only works some of the time, as she often refuses to listen to me for an extended period of time, but your mileage may vary. Be careful with this method, though, because your Inner Editor may simply give up, and then you’ll have a difficult time editing.
- Compromise. This is the method I currently use, wherein I say to her that I will correct simple grammar issues, like spelling and punctuation, so long as she agrees to ignore larger grammar issues until I am finished. Usually this takes some coaxing with either caffeine or chocolate, however.
- Speed write, with the use of a timer. This is another method I prefer, as it forces me to get as much written as possible within a set time. I usually set a timer for ten minutes, and then write as fast as I can. Afterwards, I can then take a couple of minutes to edit (quickly) what I wrote and then move on to the next ten minute sprint.
- Give in to your Inner Editor’s demands. Sometimes, the best course of action is to take the punches and never fight back. On one hand, you might not make 50,000 words in the month, but on the other, you’ll have a fairly polished start of a draft. NaNoWriMo isn’t about “winning” so much as it’s about getting your story down on paper. So long as you write something, you’re winning.
How do you quiet your Inner Editor? Let me know in the comments below!