If you are headed for the finish line in NaNoWriMo, here are seven ways to turn off that pesky internal editor that slows down your writing.
- If you use Word, turn off the preference to check spelling as you type. It is distracting to have Word constantly second-guessing you. Typos are not the problem; going back to fix them is a problem, and the little red lines can drive you nuts.
- Start with the easy part. If you hit a snag, move to another chapter and write the easy part of that one. You may find the rest of the first chapter is processing itself through your subconscious. Sometimes I get the answer as I’m falling asleep. There is something about my half-asleep-half-awake brain that solves problems.
- If you absolutely hate the paragraph you just wrote, don’t try to fix it. Leave it on the page and start over. Writing it a second time will be faster than writing it the first time was. Leave both versions in your draft. When you go back and reread, you may find parts of each version appeal to you. Leave the judgement for the months that follow.
- Never start the day by rereading what you wrote the day before. At most, read the last paragraph to remember where you left off. Even that is a trap ready to suck the most valuable productive part of your day into editing. Insert a page break in your manuscript at the end of the day and start the next day with a fresh screen. If the transition between yesterday’s writing and today’s writing is a little rough, that is easy to fix.
- Set goals. For example: To write 50,000 words in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words per day. Setting a daily goal of 2,000 words allows you to take a deep breath on Thanksgiving, or even treat yourself with a shopping trip on Black Friday. You can break a daily goal down further and say 500 words before breakfast (that’s only two double-spaced pages), another 750 before lunch, or whatever suits you own writing routine.
- Try closing your eyes and typing as you say the words out loud. This gets rid of the need to fix typos. Something about saying the words out loud makes you type faster. Alternatively, you might try turning on dictation in Word and just talk to your computer. I have to dim the screen and not look at it so I’m not tempted to fix it as I go. Try a page or two before looking at the results. It takes getting used to, but if it works, it is a great time saver.
- Don’t second guess yourself until you get the whole thing on paper. Remember, no one but you ever has to read your first draft. First drafts are lousy by definition. That’s why they’re called first drafts. You can always fix a first draft. There’s no way to fix a blank page.
Question: Do you have any tips on how to turn off your internal editor? Please share.
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