I hope you all had a fantastic, safe 4th of July! Today's tip on the infernal internal editor comes from Cate Morgan who blogs at Infinite Monkey. Cate's apocalyptic fantasy novella Brighid's Cross will be published by Samhain Ltd. in November 2011. Such great news! Please give her a visit and consider subscribing to her blog. Enjoy!
Tip Tuesday - In Which We Beat Writer's Block.
Or, Adventures In Distracting The Infernal Editor
I don’t know about you, but my writer’s block has a name. I call it the Infernal Editor, mainly because if I’m stuck at a road block and can’t see where I need to go it’s because he’s snatched the next bit of story and run off with it, laughing a diabolical laugh. Or because he’s blocked my view like a big ol' hiney in front of a TV. Every writer has that internal voice screaming “No, go that way!” or switching the road signs in the direction of an unexpected cliff. Even as I type this, he’s bouncing up and down, going “What did you write THAT for? That’s not helpful or witty or in any way good. Hey, is that a Starbucks?”
See how he tried to lure me off track like that? The Infernal Editor is indeed a worthy foe—crafty, malicious, and determined to make us doubt ourselves and our talent. It knows your weaknesses, and exploits them mercilessly. Sometimes he even appears in the guise of logic or Writer’s Little Helper. A tricksy trickster, that one.
Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin a Cheshire Cat.
Chain Of Events
This is where I grab a notebook and pen and run off somewhere the Infernal Editor can’t find me. Then, beginning at my last key scene or plot point, I summarize the action in short lines of action, image, or dialogue up to the point where I got stuck. It's important to do this by memory, and to leave lots of white space for notes later. If I’ve gone wrong anywhere or missed something this is where I usually find it. Don’t sweat mechanics or grammar or anything remotely technical—this is about discovery, and the point is to get rid of the little bastard, not encourage him. He’s usually so stricken by the lack of paragraphs, sentence structure and punctuation he can’t form words.
Spinning Down The Page
By the time I reach the road block a solution usually crops up, and I can continue alternating action-image-dialogue, line by line, in any order that comes natural. Writing hot, breathing deep, leaving the Infernal Editor shaking his fists impotently in my rearview mirror, all the way until the next key scene or plot point, destination in clear view. Again, this isn't about planning, but discovery.
Getting It Down
Time to put it all into the computer. Using my notebook, I can now put it all into actual words. By now my brain is so into the groove things I never initially considered pop up like jack-in-the-boxes, waving their little hands, going “Pick me, pick ME!” This is where I come up with some of my best writing, because my brain is warmed up and purring nicely. And I go with it, because the Infernal Editor is still panting to catch up. And then it’s my turn to chortle an evil little laugh. Bwa-ha-ha-haaaa.
An evil laugh can be good for the writer’s soul, as long as it’s your own.