Thursday, November 6, 2008

Divided Mind

NaNoWriMo's been going on for over a week. What I've learned, so far, is:

My, but our minds are sneaky, unconscious little devils. Amazing how they can divide into conscious and subconscious and even unconscious compartments. The editor lurks, ready to spring on the unsuspecting, trying-to-just-write writer with, "Slow down or better yet, stop. Because this isn't working, not really. Oh no, that plot won't work, better go back to the drawing board and start over. Better rewrite the last scene before you try a new scene. You'd better--"

Well, you get the idea.

One of my solutions? To realize that the editor is only trying to help. The editor has a job and just doesn't know when to do it. So I'm gentle with said editor and say, "That may all be true, but right now I'm writing rough draft. You'll work later." If the editor continues, I get firmer and more specific, "Hush up until I finish this page, chapter, whatever."

Okay, so I'm talking to myself.

What do you do to turn off the editor? How do the edit demons sneak up on you?


Dave King said...

Or how do you distinguish the editor-to-be-listened-to from the editor-not-to-be-listened-to?
But putting that aside for a moment...
If you have dropped by Sharon's blog recently (and if you have not, you really ought) you will know that she has been good enough to pass some (4) awards on to me, which I have been pleased to accept. The condition of acceptance is that I in turn should pass them on. This I am glad enough to do, and for that purpose have picked out those blogs that have given me the most pleasure over the longest period of time. Yours, I am happy to say, is one of those. If, then, you would like to visit my blog and copy the visuals to yours, please do so. Obviously, there is no coercion here. If you decide not (for whatever reason), that is not a problem. If you do accept, please pass them on in your turn.

Jim Murdoch said...

I've already mentioned this but the simple answer is, I don't. To my mind a novel is like a piece of music that flows from beginning to end. So, I'm continually going back to the beginning and listening to that flow so that when I write my next sentence it hits the ground running. I write in blocks, sometimes they're chapters, usually not. I write a block and then I go back to the start of the block, read and edit, and then I go back perhaps a chapter and read through to make sure I have the flow right. Periodically I go back to the very start and every time I do I edit as I go usually grafting in smaller blocks of text and finally just tweaking single sentences. It's a bit laborious I suppose but I don't know how to go too far without going back and smoothing things out. I could never do NaNo. The other thing too is that every time I go back I find the shape changes and the direction changes. Talking about it it sounds almost relaxing, kind of therapeutic but it's not.

Swubird said...


You've hit on the most difficult question of all: How to turn off the editor?

Personally, I try to get the whole thing written before I edit (short stories - not book length). Otherwise, I will never get passed the first few paragraphs. Then I try to leave the material as is for at least a day before I take a fresh look. After a little cutting and pasting, I let it sit again. It's like cooking. Some things have to stew for a while before you add salt or other ingredients. I have been known, however, to edit too much and not leaving enough for my story! That's like ruining your stew with way too much salt. What do you do then?

Great topic.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Dave! Wow! Awards--and Sharon's blog is very interesting and well done.

Just like yours.

Conda Douglas said...

Jim--interesting, fascinating, and an excellent example of how we are all so different in so many ways. Including how we write!

Conda Douglas said...

Hey, Swu--I've done the same thing! No story left to edit! And sometimes there's still a story--but I've stripped all the energy out of it.

Not so much these days, as I've come to realize that no story, paragraph, sentence or word will ever be "good enough" much less perfect!

Dave King said...

Hi Conda, now to pay for your awards - if you've a mind!
Some days (weeks?) ago I was tagged from that very delightful blog AcornMoon to provide seven facts about myself (unusual ones if possible, I think it said - absolutely impossible, of course!). Having done which, I was then to tag seven others to do likewise, and finally to leave a message with each to let them know they had been tagged.

The first part of the challenge will be discharged on my blog with a post scheduled for tomorrow.
You willhave guessed by now that you are one of my choices for Part 2. Please regard it as a suggestion only - I would not like anyone to feel compelled in any way to pick it up, but if you feel able and willing, please go to my blog any time from tomorrow (Thursday) onwards for the full details, post your seven revelations abut yourself on your own blog, then choose another seven blogs and pass the challenge on. Good luck!

The Muse said...

Good luck with the NaNo! I've been thinking about it for a couple of years myself. However, it just comes at a bad time of the year for me. I can barely keep up with what I'm doing now.

About that pesky editor...Mine is certainly heading for it's untimely demise. We argue back and forth over the stupidest details. I've taken to ignoring it and writing how I wish just so I can get something done. Good? Bad? Only time will tell.

Keep us updated on your progress.

Conda Douglas said...

Hey, Dave, yes of course, I love being tagged! And I haven't forgotten about the delightful awards, and passing them on, either! Nanowrimo has eaten all my writing time--but I'm on it and looking forward to it, as well!

Conda Douglas said...

Hi Muse--yes, I also am swamped this month--we're doing Thanksgiving for the whole family! But NaNo is helping me git 'er done.

Swubird said...


I'll tell you one thing that really burns me.

I had worked very hard on an article for a magazine. I spoke to the publisher several times, and she did a great job of telling me to add this or that. For instance, it was a nonfiction article, so she wanted a quote from a public figure. Things like that. I got the quote - no problem.

Finally, I finished the piece and submitted it for publication. But when the article appeared in the magazine, the editor had completely changed the last two paragraphs. In my opinion, she changed it from very good, to just so so. I was very disappointed and a little embarrassed when showing it to friends and family with the editor's changes.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Boy, that is incredibly annoying, Swu! And very, very unprofessional of that editor. The standard for any editor is to okay ALL changes with the writer BEFORE publication. This is especially true of any nonfiction as the editor can get the facts wrong in rewriting.