Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Inner Editor for Sale

Yesterday I sat down with my notebook and looked at the prompt for Teachers Write. Scribbling away in my notebook, I felt ok about my writing. Shared it on Kate’s website and put my notebook aside.

Looking at my laptop screen, I sighed. After what felt like an eternity of staring at a blank page in Word, I began to type. Words flowed out, but they felt wrong. Not to be deterred, I opened another document in Word – one I’ve already worked on. Still, that voice in my head said my writing was off. Grasping at straws, I opened a third document – again one I had worked on previously. The inner editor was now speaking loudly, sharing wonderful and helpful insights with me like:

This writing is horrible.

Do you really think you can write, much less a book?

What is the “so what” here? You don’t have one.

Everyone knows this stuff already. You have nothing to contribute.

I kept at it, turning on music, attempting to tune her out. After writing about a thousand words through the three different documents, I closed them for the day. Frustrated, I took to Twitter and tweeted this:

Logically, I know that I am not the only one to struggle with the inner editor. I heard so many people I admire at All Write – Ruth, Donalyn, Penny, Chris, Terry, Jeff, and more say the same thing. I loved learning that Terry often stops writing to go look in the fridge. Donalyn calls this #prewriting. I loved knowing that theses people – who write beautiful and important books – struggle with the same internal conflict that I do. That being said – how do I get rid of this voice?

Linda Urban on Twitter shared that Cynthia Lord sends hers on a vacation to the beach complete with margaritas. (I think I should just drink the margarita myself – that could make my writing more interesting!) Donalyn said that was too nice, I should just send the inner editor out to weed. Hmm, my flowerbeds are looking a bit neglected. Over and over I heard from friends on Twitter and knew more than ever that I wasn’t alone.

It was that realization that made me stop and pause. Isn’t this why I started writing to begin with? Because if I feel this way, I know with absolute certainty that my students are as well. I suppose I can’t tell my students to have their inner editor go drink a margarita, but I can share how I felt this day in June. (And surely will again.) By talking about our inner editors in class my students can realize that we all feel this way, it isn’t a reason not to write – or worse, stop writing.

Yesterday was a reminder to be kinder to myself. I can see my own growth in my writing since starting this blog. I know with certainty when I look back three years from now, my writing will have continued to improve. This is where I am; this is the message I need to share. I need to go do it. The inner editor will just have to play nice or she’s out of here.