Editing Tip #78 – Ditch the Self-Restraint


Flickr User thamimzy (Creative Commons)

As writers there will come a time when you’ve amassed as much knowledge as your brain can (currently) handle regarding composition and editing. You’ll find you just need to focus on what it is you love – writing. Something else you might suddenly find is the emergence of (or more frequent insistence of) your inner editor.

And she can be damn loud sometimes.

… she tells you not to write that word because you’ve already used it twice in that paragraph…

… she tells you stop writing “has been” so much because it’s too passive and slows the narrative…

… she tell you not to put too much back story in because you’ll give too much away…

She just natters on and on and on and won’t let you write in peace!

You can’t let her rule your brain, your ability to think and be creative. This forced self-restraint when writing a first draft is what often makes writers stop writing.

Don’t give up.

Don’t think you need to be perfect right out of the starter gate.

This isn’t a sprint your running it’s a marathon and we all stumble at some point in the race.


If you can believe it, my editor told me recently that I was listening to my inner critic too much with the first draft of the second book in my sci-fi/fantasy series… She told me, “It’s better to over explain than to leave things out. You can’t assume that your readers will be as familiar with your world, your characters, as you are.”

In other words, give yourself permission to vomit on the page – lock your self-editing brain up and let the story flow… all of the story!

It’s easier to cut out redundant information than to try and get yourself back into the same frame of mind you were in when you wrote a particular scene and ADD the missing pieces later.

Don’t worry. You can do it. I believe in you!

Happy Writing!

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Categories: Editing

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2 replies

  1. Excellent advice, M.J. I fall into the trap all too often, in fact I’m sure my inner editor uses a megaphone! But I advocate word vomiting! Great post 🙂


  2. Thanks Melissa! So often writers who have been collecting advice on how to self-edit better learn over time how to “turn on” the various aspects of being an editor but they forget to teach themselves how to turn it off and when it’s okay to ignore that inner megaphone 😉


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