I used to believe that with a bit of talent and hard work, I could produce a flawless story in one draft. It didn’t take me long to learn that a perfect story on the first draft doesn’t exist, and in fact, was downright impossible to achieve – so I started editing while I wrote, thinking I could outwit my own fanatical desire for perfection, and during that time, I unwittingly acquired a new writing partner – she has several names but is most commonly known as “your inner editor”. She is a drifter who has worked for countless writers. We started working together, but I soon tired of the relationship. Editing while I wrote slowed the momentum of my story and it eventually burned out. My “inner editor” kerbed the flow of words that might have created a masterpiece (or at least a finished project) had they been allowed to fill the page without restraint.
I realized I had a bad working relationship with my “inner editor.” It was time to break the partnership or I’d run the risk of never finishing a story. Firing my inner editor was not easy. She wouldn’t leave without a fight. I had to learn to write without judgement, continually moving forward, resisting the urge to go back and re-read the last paragraph. It’s free-writing in all its glory – just sit and write and don’t look back until it’s finished. Let the words flow from your brain through your fingertips onto the page free from censure. It took weeks for me to stop listening to my inner editor and part of me will never truly be free. She’s still there, lingering in the shadows, taunting me from the sidelines, but I manage to ignore her unreasonable demands most of the time. Her opinions have become less important as the work prevails.
A year after I freed myself from my inner editor, I published my first story…and then my second…
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.