The Editor

Day 3: Kill The Editor

In yesterday’s post, I highlighted the technique of freewriting that I use to unleash my inner genius. It works well in times when the words get stuck, and I need to push through a lot of words the clean out the pipeline.

One of the advantages of freewriting is that it bypasses the editor. We all have one. I’ve even given my editor a name. The editor is that voice in your head that is constantly checking your work. As you are writing, the editor is throwing in suggestions and telling you where to correct your grammar, and how to restate a sentence for clarity.

“That sentence is too long!”

“Don’t use the words ‘won’t want’!”

“You are writing in the passive voice!”

More often than not, these suggestions become roadblocks. Instead of writing, you are suddenly trying to correct yourself and make your writing perfect.

Discover Morning Pages

One book that has been (passive voice) helpful to me over the years is The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron. Most know Cameron from her seminal book, The Artist Way. In The Right to Write, Cameron leads her readers through several exercises designed tho help with the writing process. The most helpful for me has been Morning Pages. In this exercise, Cameron teaches writers to help develop a pattern of fluid writing by writing three pages first thing in the morning. She encourages writers to complete their Morning Pages in longhand.

The concept is very similar to freewriting. The point is to just write. Cameron believes there is some magic that happens, however, when we put Morning Pages at the top of our day. It helps clear the cob webs and it captures our stream of thinking before we have a chance to process a lot of detail. Of course, a key benefit of Morning Pages is that like freewriting, it effectively kills the editor.

Why I Struggle With Blogging

I must confess, I don’t struggle a lot with my editor until it comes to the process of writing for my own personal blog. Even now, the words for this post have flowed without hesitation until I reached this paragraph. There is something very intimidating about writing for my own blog.

I’ve thought about the reasons for this, and they all seem to point to a couple of reoccurring themes.

First, and I hate to point the finger at you, my dear reader, but it’s partially your fault. You are a nameless, faceless person that seems to be peering over my shoulder as I write these words. Because there’s no interaction, I rely on my editor to provide feedback.

“That was a stupid thing to say.”

“You should be careful what you write…this is going to live forever on the Internet, you know.”

“My guess is all of your enemies from your past are the only one’s who read this blog. Every time you use an example, they identify themselves in the example and grow angry with you.”

The second reason I struggle to write for this blog is because my life does not fit the prescribed template for successful blogs. Rule number one of learning to blog is to identify a niche, and write for your niche. My life doesn’t fit very well into a niche. I have incredibly broad and diverse interests that spill over into a wide variety of domains.

If I simply learn to write from the flow of information I consume on a weekly basis, I will have a deep well to draw from, but I’m afraid it won’t fit into a very nice, clean niche.

To offer some evidence of this, let me give you a peek inside my kindle and the books I’ve ready the last few months:

  • Content Crunch: Why Curation is the Future of Your Website (Durrant)
  • Alone With God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer (MacArthur)
  • How to Choose and Use a Wide-Margin Bible (Brown)
  • The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust (Beer)
  • What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Perman)
  • To-Do List Makeover: A Simple Guide to Getting the Important Things Done (Scott)
  • Church of the Nazarene: My Memoirs, My Insights, My Suggestions (Smith)
  • Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible (Schultz)
  • Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive (Rainer)
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Mckeown)
  • Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (Manvell & Fraenkel)
  • The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice (Henry)
  • Master Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Organizing Your Life with Evernote (Plus 75 Ideas for Getting Started) (Scott)
  • A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Bryson)
  • No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Greenwald)
  • CURRENTLY READING: Fall of the Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy (Follett)

Now note, some of these books I read with interest cover-to-cover, while others I skimmed to get the general idea. The point is, if you review this list, it would be impossible to place these into any one well-defined niche. You see threads—history, how to, some fiction, current events, but clearly there is no overwhelming theme.

This is the key problem with my efforts to blog. If I write “what interests me,” I’m afraid my writing will be of little interest to anyone else. If that’s the case, then why not simply confine my writing to my journal?

There’s a simple answer to that: writing for public consumption hones your writing skills, while writing for your own personal reflection tends to let your skills grow dull. Who cares what I write in my journal or how well I write when I am the only one who will every see what’s written?

So, part of killing the editor for me, as far as blogging is concerned, is learning to write out of my stream of learning without being overly concerned that my writing does not fall into a given niche.

How do you kill the editor in your writing process?

Photo Credit: stephenphampshire via Compfight

This is Day 3 of my 30 Day Blogging Flush. The purpose of this series is to perform a “writing flush” on this blog, and write 30 posts in 30 days in an effort to break through writer’s block.


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