Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I've Got a Theory: You can fire your inner editor

Inner editors. We've all got them. They're helpful, I suppose. Without them, revisions might be overwhelming. Some, though, can be decidedly less helpful. When they're too strong, drafting can be overwhelming. The best kind of inner editor leaves you alone most of the time until you are ready for their services.

Well, what if you have a terrible inner editor? One that just really isn't working out for you? I've got a theory about what you can do.

Inner editors can be fired. And you can hire one that better suits you.

It's true! I started out with Miss Stakeless. She was around for my first book. She walked around in my head while I wrote, ruler in hand, ready to rap my knuckles.

She demanded I used correct punctuation.
She demanded I used correct spelling.
She demanded I used correct grammar.
She demanded I didn't use words that end in "ing" or "ly."
She demanded I varied my sentence structure.
She demanded I didn't use the same words too close to one another.

She said if I took it slow and got it right the first time, I'd be happier later. "Slow but steady wins the race," she said WAY too often.

I was afraid of her, so I listened and I did what she said. My knuckles are pansies.

The whole time, though, I had my eyes on this guy:

His name is Doodle, but he prefers to be called Dood. (Heavy on the "oo.") Sure, he's a punk. And sure, he needs to pull up his shorts a bit. And after a while, that surfer lingo might get a little old.

But he's a genius.

And I've heard he'd be quite content to surf while I type, and only get picky about the editing when I was good and ready to edit. Plus, cartoon Inner Editors just seem so much more... fun. So, I called Dood on his cell phone and asked if he wanted the job.

He was in Australia, shredding some serious waves. He said he was unwilling to leave such perfect crests, but more importantly, I wasn't ready for him as an inner editor yet. (Whatever, Dood.)

For someone who seems so one track minded, he can be surprisingly astute. And he did recommend someone else to do the job. I am happy to report that I hired her.

She was an Editing Magician, or E.M., but she liked it when I called her "Auntie Em."

We got along great! I gave her free roam of the brain kitchens, and she baked cookies while I wrote. My brain likes working to the smell of cookies. While I wrote a first draft, she only stopped by to tell me that I used a passive voice, or that I hadn't varied my sentence structure enough every 9 to 11 minutes, instead of constantly like Miss Stakeless did.

I loved her. I loved her cookies. I loved her smiling face. I hope she liked living in my brain. I gave her a room with lots of windows where there was always sunshiny days. There were big, comfy chairs and lots of yarn for knitting. I even placed her in the part of my brain furthest from my imagination, so she could go for an evening stroll and not worry about bad guys or monsters suddenly appearing on the paths through my brain.

Then one day, I got a call. Dood said that I was finally ready to have him as my inner editor! I didn't exactly fire Auntie Em as convince her that someone else needed her services even more than I did. (But I also managed to convince her that I still need the cookies the most, and that my brain kitchens were always open to her. Every once in a while she still stops by to bake a batch.)

So there you go. Proof that you can fire your inner editor and get a new one if the one you've got isn't quite working out for you.


Cristina said...

oh, you can fire them? yay!!! off to get rid of a little annoying pest!

Emily R. King said...

This is true! I've fired my inner editor several times. And my new ones have been wonderful. I think it's important to change and grow as writers, so it makes sense that our inner editor would improve too.

Faith E. Hough said...

LOL! I like my inner editor most of the time, but I do occasionally send her on a sabbatical...

DRC said...

What a great and funny post. My Inner Editor is fairly strict, but I like that. We have an understanding. She allows me free rein to write what I want on the agreement that spelling and grammer are corrected as I go. It works quite well for me...

Jenny S. Morris said...

SO funny. I need Auntie Em over here.

Abby Fowers said...

I'm so glad you can fire them. The trouble is that Miss Stakeless moved in my brain after you fired her! I suppose I must fire her too, for she is driving me crazy!
I love this post. You are so creative and I am glad we can fire those inner editors.

Julie said...

Hahahaha! That old lady pic is so funny! And, okay, maybe a little scary too...

Great post!

P.s. I blog awarded you! Check it out ( :

Unknown said...

That was really cute! I kind of like my inner editor though... It means less work later on and I LOVE that. But Dood is pretty amazing. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

I set my inner editor on fire too!

...Oh, wait. You said fire them. Not set them on fire.

Well, this is awkward now, isn't it? *Ahem* Great post! :)

Tara Tyler said...

i think i had a dude like Dood the first time and the strict scary one this time. i need one in the middle. ah well!

David P. King said...

I had no idea you could do this. Me and my inner need to sit down and have a little chat. I like Dood. Does he have any openings? :)

Awesome post, Peggy! And hey! Over 200 members now! That's awesome!

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

So funny that you use "Doodle"--an English teacher of mine (long ago) described the "pig head" and the "doodle head" to denote the two sides of writing. She said the trick was to let the doodle head work without the pig head butting in. Only AFTER doodle was done could you let the pig out of his pen to sniff all over your manuscript.

Believe it or not, the English teacher was in college. And I remember every word that wonderful woman said. I'd write more, but it's time for the pig head of mine to get to work. I have a manuscript to polish!

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Everyone needs an editor--inner or outter--probably both.

Jolene Perry said...

Awesome post :D

I definitely use DOOOOOOD, for most of my writing. But man I need the lady who will smack my knuckles as I pick through my MS on one of my million last read-throughs. Those are painful - taking each page at a time, trying to force my brain to believe that this is THE ONLY PAGE of my MS that the editor will see. It better be PERFECT.
So, I guess that's the part of writing I don't like, but I do love the DOOOOOOD part.

Bkloss said...


I am drafting another novel right now. It's so hard after working with something you've been polishing for, well, years. And with this brand new draft, my inner editor is ripping me apart every second! Excuse me a moment while I fire her...

YOU are so smart.

M Pax said...

I've learned to fire mine to get through a first draft. Great advice. I think we get wound a bit too tight about rules and the like sometimes and then when we read back what we wrote we can't figure out why it seems flat.

Jessie Humphries said...

This is truly insightful. I never even knew I had an internal editor! Maybe I dont, and the post needs to be filled. I better figure that one out.

Jeff King said...

Awesome post… I think this stems from us as writers growing our craft, it also shows you’re not getting stuck in a rut. Often times I meet writers who fail to grow because they feel what the learned in English glass is the end all be all.

But telling a good story and relating it to the reader is much more that meets the eye. It’s a never ending growing process that we must embrace if we want to be successful.

lindy said...

Lol! I don't have the luxury of firing my inner editors, they quit. Is Auntie Em looking for work by chance?

Lydia Kang said...

Brilliant idea! Firing that pesky editor that's keeping the words from flowing. Do I have to pay her severance, though?

J+S said...

But exactly how do you fire your inner editor? Mine is telling me that starting this sentence with "but" is horrible and she won't shut up about it.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Cristina-- Yes you can! Good luck!

E.R.-- I'm glad you've had great inner editors! I think you're right-- they have to change as we improve as writers.

Faith-- That's AWESOME. Awesome that she's great, and awesome that she'll go on sabbatical when you ask her to. :)

DRC-- Perfect-for-you inner editors are THE BEST!

Jenny-- Auntie Em was awesome. You would totally love her.

Abby-- Oh, no! I always wondered where Miss Stakeless moved on to. I hope your knuckles aren't bruised from the rapping of them! Good luck with that. :) I hope your next one rocks your brain.

Julie-- She was funny and scary. And thanks for the blog award! That's so very sweet. I'm very excited!

Nisa-- Dood IS amazing, but that's because he's perfect for me. I'm so glad you have an inner editor that's perfect for you!

Carrie-- Hahahahaha! Hehehehe! You're killing me.

Tara-- You should totally get Auntie Em then! She rocked.

David-- Yes, you very much can. Good luck giving yours a talking to! If things don't work out, I'll pass on Dood's contact info. :) And yes! So excited about being over 200! But no big giveaways-- I'm not nearly as cool as you. Maybe at the next milestone. :)

Shakespeare-- What an awesome English teacher! I love when teachers use visualization that sticks with you forever. Good luck with the polishing!

Richard-- Haha! You are SO right.

Jolene-- That's the beauty of Dood. He will just hang out and chill while you're drafting, then he cracks down like nobody's business when it's time to edit and revise. He's perfect I tell you. Perfect!

Barbara-- I think that sometimes a much harsher inner editor slips in while you are knee deep and many many months into perfecting a manuscript. Then when you start drafting again, you're like "What just happened?! I used to have a fabulous inner editor!" Good luck with the firing. :)

M-- I think you hit the nail on the head! I love that you fire your inner editor completely while you draft! Not an easy thing to do, that's for sure.

Jessie-- You must have a really lax inner editor, then. Seriously-- the very best kind of inner editor to have when you're drafting. And I've seen your polished stuff, so I know that inner editor must come back spewing editing energy when it's time to revise!

Jeff-- I think you are right. We have to constantly be growing if we ever want to succeed, and our inner editors need to change as we go.

Lindy-- Hahaha! You should totally go for Auntie Em. You'll love her like I loved her. I'll pass your info along.

Lydia-- That's the best part-- no severance pay needed!

Jenifer-- It's more like convincing them to leave. Some like to be squatters, and it may take drastic action to get them to leave. Start by saying that EXPERTS say that you can break the rules as long as you know what you're doing. Just tell that inner editor that BUT is a perfectly fine way to start a sentence! You know the rules, and you are breaking them for the good of all. :)

Aurora Smith said...

good flipping post!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Read my books-- Thanks!! You're too flipping kind. :)