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Those Infernal, Internal Editors

How to Turn Your Internal Editor into an Ally

All freelance writers have an internal editor. It's that voice that sometimes tells us nothing we write is any good. It's the voice that keeps us writing and rewriting a single sentence at the expense of the rest of the piece or sends us off to clean the house rather than write.

Turn Your Editor Into an Ally

That infernal, internal editor can, however, turn into a valued friend for your freelance writing career. The trick is to enroll it into supporting your efforts. Here are some tips:

  • First, remember you are in charge, not that internal voice.
  • Tell your internal voice you appreciate it's help, but only at the appropriate times.
  • Ask that voice for suggestions, not judgments.

Sound a bit wacky? Maybe, but it works; this sort of self-patterning is based, loosely, on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). The theory is we can change, among other things, our self-talk so we are better at supporting ourselves and our efforts.

For example, I once was hired to take sermon transcriptions and turn them into readable prose booklets. The minister never got a Bible quote exactly right so I developed an internal editor called Mildred. She was about 80-years-old, lived in Iowa and knew her Bible! (Apologies to all the Mildreds, Iowans and 80-year-olds). Mildred caused me to buy a good concordance and spend, in some cases, several hours finding the intended quote and making sure it was accurate in the booklets. Mildred still helps me with fact checking, particularly when I get bored or really tired of checking up on my own work. 

Reframe Your Internal Editor

One way to reframe your internal editor is to think of it as the reader your addressing in your writing. Given that task, the editor becomes more ally than enemy. It helps you spot awkward wording, assumptions that need to be clarified and areas where you drift off purpose,

It also helps to train your internal editor to shut-up when you're drafting material. Tell it you will make good use of it later on, but right now you need total freedom to create; inner editors are rarely helpful in the heat of a creative moment, but they can learn to wait until their contribution is needed and appreciated.

It takes some practice to really learn to work with your inner editor, but it can be done and it's worth the effort. 



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Email Anne: Anne@AboutFreelanceWriting.com

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