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Sunday, May 24, 2009

MIA and the IE

I have an excuse for being MIA from Fantastic Friday and any other blog posts. Well, a lot of excuses. Which one do you want? The most convincing one? Well, there was this UFO, see, and a beam of light came down-- um-- and then-- hm. Memory's a little fuzzy after that.


I just finished reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. While this book was, in a word, life changing (er, in two words, I guess), I've found that the principles in it, like most books on life, can be applied to writing. Ready for something deep?

One of the very, very, VERY basic themes of this book is learning to live now, a continuation of Eckhart Tolle's first book, The Power of Now. To avoid a very long and possibly debate-provoking explanation (though who doesn't love a good debate?), I shall say only that in A New Earth Tolle talks about seeing beyond the continuing thoughts in your head and to BE now. Because now, this moment, is all you really have, and the voice in your head is either gibbering about the past or the future, two things you aren't experiencing NOW. How does this transfer into writing? Two words: Inner Editor.

(Oh, Inner Editor. For being such an annoying little pest, we sure do devote a lot of blog posts to you.)

I can't think of one writer who hasn't complained about the dreaded IE. Whilst writing, we always come to a point where the story is flowing and we get excited and everything is working out -- until the IE shows up. Then all our previous happiness deflates.

"You're going to write THAT? That's atrocious! How DARE you waste your talent like that? Heck, you don't even HAVE talent. Just stop. Start over. It's just -- no. Just no."

And we, being deflated, usually comply. But why? Why is our IE so very, very cruel? Why do we let it have any say over our writing story after story, knowing it's only every going to make us deflate?

This is where Tolle's theories come in. If, when IE springs up, we take a step back from it's taunting, we can take a step toward overcoming it. Next time IE starts muttering under our breath, instead of listening to it's very wrong ramblings, we can see what we are doing to ourselves and breathe. IE's mumblings aren't the least bit beneficial and, when you think about it, don't make much sense. So what, that part you just wrote is crap? So what, the story may be weak here? It'll be good someday. And you will go back and fix all the little stuff. And you know what to look out for now, what mistakes to avoid making. In this moment, this now, you are working on a draft, and drafts are SUPPOSED to suck.

So tell IE to shove it, and get back to writing now, not worrying about what you'll have to fix later.


Natalie Whipple said...

Amen Sara! You can't write a Final Draft first—it's impossible. There will always be a first draft that needs fixing. Why worry about it? The faster you can get it down, the sooner you can get to making it pretty:)

Mariah Irvin said...

It's always hard for me to leave my writing as it is, but no first draft can be perfect.

Unknown said...

Ah, Tolle. Now this is the kind of non-fiction I actually like. This and Malcolm Gladwell's writing. (The Tipping Point is sooo very interesting!)

The thing is my IE doesn't mumble under its breath, it doesn't mutter and skulk in the background.

It screams. And pokes. And prods. And throws tantrums like a two year old. Guess Tolle is saying I should put the two year old on a time out. :p

Wyman Stewart said...

Reminds me of studying Id, Ego, and Superego in a General Psychology class I once took. Back to my peanut butter sandwich, then I return to clawing my way up Maslow's Pyramid. The pen is mightier than the sword editing in my head.

K. M. Walton said...

My IE is a nasty naysayer that I'd so love to knock out with one punch.

I'm actually in the middle of A New Earth & The Tipping Point - I've let them sit on my nightstand for a month or so - I think I'm going back in...

Sara Raasch said...

KM: Definitely go back in. Such a fabulous book!