Ninja Writers Academy: Putting Your Inner Editor in Their Place

The Ninja Writers Academy: Putting Your Inner Editor in Their Place. Come learn how the Blythe Assignment can help you learn to deal with the voice inside your head that insists that you're a fraud.

Since I’m deep in revision at the moment, I thought this was a great time to talk to you Ninjas about your inner editor.

Your inner editor is that voice inside your head that tells you that your sentence isn’t perfect enough, your story is stupid, you’re a complete hack–a total fraud–and what exactly do you think you’re doing anyway, writing down your stupid story full of imperfect sentences?

Your inner editor will try to convince you, when you’re working on your first draft, to leave the writing to the professionals.

You have one of those, right? I know you do. I have one, too. Every writer comes with one, standard.

Today I’m going to teach you my trick for coping with mine.

First though, let me tell you something that’s super important.

You actually need an inner editor, so you don’t want to make yours go away completely. It’s only when that voice kicks in too soon that things go pear-shaped. When your first draft is finished and you need to look at your story with a critical eye? That’s when you can invite that editor out to play. And I promise, when the time is right, it won’t be so awful having that voice around.

The Blythe Assignment

Today I want you to personify your inner editor.

Seriously, go ahead and give them a name.

Mine is Blythe. She’s middle-aged and too made up, a bottle blonde, kind of trying too hard not to be frumpy in a weirdly Gothic way. She’s also super smart and really knows her stuff, but she can be a bitch about it. She’s kind of a cross between Mrs. Havisham and Joey’s agent on Friends. Remember her?


Now, I want you to give your inner editor a safe place to live when they aren’t working.

Blythe lives in a gold cage in my head. Like a bird cage, with a pretty lavender velvet cover that keeps her quiet until I need to bring her out to do her stuff.

When I’m in revision, and actually need Blythe, she doesn’t have time to tell me that I suck or that if I’m not careful everyone on Earth will realize what a Grade-A fraud I am. She’s too busy doing what she’s really good at–making my story shine.

Here’s what I want you to do: get out your notebook and free write about your inner editor. Give them a name and a description–and then imagine how you’ll keep them in line inside your own head. You can borrow my bird cage, or maybe you need a well to lower them down. Or an underwater palace for them to live in with their Mermaid wife. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s something that lets you imagine having control over when they come out and when they stay locked up.

Remember, when you’re drafting your Blythe needs to be on lockdown. When you’re revising, let them out to do their job. And, always, always, always, YOU are in charge.

Your Turn

Come on over to the Ninja Writers’ Facebook group and introduce us to your inner editor. Tell us about how you keep them in line in their off time. I’ll be around the Facebook group tomorrow (3/27) from noon to 1 p.m. PST for office hours if you have any questions about how to control your Blythe.

Want to join the Ninja Writer’s Academy? Click here to get notification when the next lesson goes live. Members get a PDF of every assignment.

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