Visualise your inner critic

What does your Inner Editor look like? Have you heard of the 'Inner Editor Containment Button?'

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us. The organisers have put together a workbook to get writers started. On the very first page, they tell us about this button.

“What is your Inner Editor? He's the nagging, no-fun beast we bring along with us on all our creative endeavours. He sits on our shoulder and points out our typos and misspellings and every awkward sentence. When he's in a particularly nasty mood, he might try to tell us that we're embarrassingly awful writers, and shouldn't even be allowed to put pen to paper...No matter how ridiculous this might sound, close your eyes and imagine your Inner Editor. Think about what he or she might look like....Once you get a good picture in your head of what he or she looks like, open your eyes and push the button below.”

My inner editor looks like a much younger version of myself. I love my dad but when I was in school, he was extremely strict and expected me to be the perfect daughter and student. As a kid, I felt like I could never please him, no matter how hard I tried. That girl lives on in me. She sits there, bespectacled, arms crossed and frowning; she’s a very hard taskmaster.

There is a whole other aspect to this about forgiveness and making peace with my childhood which I won’t go into here. But if taking that step is necessary in your journey, do it. Seek out a counsellor if you need to.

And if you’re able to take the bitterness out of it, you’ll find that your inner editor is not actually your enemy. This part of you that runs after perfectionism is going to help you as long as you bring him or her into the process at the right time and in the right way.

Until then, push that button and contain that inner editor for as long as you need to, to get words on the page or whatever the large chunk of your endeavour is, that does not require editing until later.

What does your inner editor look like?