An Awkward Arrangement: The Relationship between the Inner Writer and the Inner Editor

Since I joined this writing group, I have not finished my novel or even published a poem. I think because I am still wrestling with doubts about the value of being a writer compared to other work. The doubts are not so strong that I have given up altogether, but they are strong enough that they have given pause to my writing even in the face of ample opportunity. Failing to move forward, I have begun to ask myself deeper questions about writing in hopes of discovering what is holding me back.

I decided the purpose of creative writing is to share your thoughts, dreams, and ideas. An engineer creates tools, but a writer creates ideas. This should be easy: I have ideas after all. I need only write down whatever comes to mind.

But not every idea is necessary, useful, or relevant; they must be selected, edited. After all, I want to be a good writer; I don’t want to share any and every thought. Unfortunately, my interior editor is the worst kind of micromanager: demanding only the best before I have even started, worrying about the potential fallout of exposure, and questioning the intent of every word.

On several occasions, people have suggested to me that I simply dismiss this aspect of myself, if only temporarily, and let myself write. Perhaps, their interior editor is quiet, easily subdued, or simply nonexistent. But, sometimes it seems that my editor and writing selves are less like two conflicting individuals who can take time apart and more like conjoined twins who must learn to work together or they will fail to live their lives.

So far this awkward arrangement has facilitated some writing, but it moves forward ever so slowly. The inconvenience of such an arrangement has left me missing the normal functions of typical writing society, such as daily work on drafts and the desire to share what I produce.

Now, I am on the verge of starting a full time position as a program data analyst. It is my hope that this new employment may act as a spiritual surgery effectively separating the editor and creative and giving them each their own body of work: the editor to analysis and the creative to creative writing. If this proves out, they will no longer be tripping each other up or pulling in opposite directions and essentially getting nowhere. Ideally, they will still check in on each other now and then: you know, sit down, have a cup of tea, hear about each other’s day, provide a little alternative perspective. But maybe now they will each flourish in their own respective space and my brain can move on to a more harmonious and productive bliss.