After more than 10 years of writing for a living, this is the one thing I wished all aspiring writers knew.
Not understanding this one thing is the reason people can’t write past the first paragraph without deleting everything they’ve written.
It’s simply this: There are two writers inside of everyone. The Dreamer and the Critic.
Who’s the Dreamer and the Critic?
The Dreamer is the voice inside you that dreams ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. The Dreamer is the inspiration that makes you take up the pen and start writing down the words.
The Critic is the one that shows up, looks at what you’ve written, and proceeds to shit all over it, letting you know in no uncertain terms how your work sucks, you suck, and that you will die in flaming embarrassment, alone.
At this point, it sounds like you should keep the Dreamer and shoot the Critic. But here’s the secret: you actually need both to write well.
Put the Dreamer and the Critic in Their Places
The Dreamer is great for writing, creativity, and ideas. You should let her go full speed ahead when you write, even if what comes out looks like gibberish.
The Critic is great for making things better, for looking over the text with a critical eye, showing you where you need to be leaner and more sensible.
But you can’t let them both come out and play at the same time.
Letting the Critic out when the Dreamer is writing shuts down the flow. You’ll find yourself deleting sentences before you even finish them because the Critic keeps criticizing. Letting the Dreamer go wild, without giving the Critic a chance to edit the text, leads to flabby writing.
When you write, let the Dreamer write as badly as she wants, going for flow.
If you start to hear a critical voice in your head telling you how terrible your writing is, thank her and tell her to come back later.
After your Dreamer finishes, let your inner Critic out to look through and edit your work.
Give both writers inside you the space to do their work, and you’ll find that you’ll have more space to do yours.