What does the writing process mean to you?
“It means you shouldn’t be afraid of your internal voice.”
What do you mean by that?
“What I mean is, trust yourself, trust your voice. Don’t even try pleasing others—please yourself, first and foremost.”
Do you have more thoughts on the writing process?
“Yes. I believe writing is freedom from criticism.”
Can you elaborate on that?
“Don’t worry what others think of your writing. If you worry what they think it will prevent you from expressing yourself freely. It’s like having an editor peering over your shoulder as you’re writing, telling you that a word doesn’t belong here, that you need a comma there, that your thoughts and feelings don’t deserve the light of day. The editor is your nemesis. You have to get rid of the editor if you want to free yourself of criticism.”
How do I get rid of the editor?
“As you write, don’t look back. If you write without looking back, even if you think you’re making a fool of yourself, or making a bunch of spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, don’t worry about it, keep going forward until you’re finished with what you want to say. After you’re finished, that’s when you should go back and start utilizing your editor.”
Wait a minute. First you tell me to get rid of this nemesis, the editor, and now you tell me to make use of it. I don’t understand.
“After you’ve freely written everything you want, you’ll need to revise, shape and mold what you’ve written. Revision is when it’s time to utilize your editor. Let me give you an example. A young man recently e-mailed me a short paragraph of his writing that was complete gobbledygook. He said he wrote it down as fast as he could and asked, ‘Is this what you mean by stream of consciousness writing?’ I wrote back saying, ‘Write more. The more you write, the more sense you’ll make, and then revise your piece if you want people to understand what you’ve written.’ It was fine that he wrote down what came quickly to his mind, but he should have written more and then utilized his editor.”
Are you saying my editor only does harm during the first draft of a work by making me hesitate or sputter along?
“I couldn’t have said it better.”
And then I should use the editor to organize and revise?
I have one more question: Who are you?
“Me? I’m your internal voice speaking to you.”