Silence your inner editor

Welcome to Friday on the GWN blog! We’re international! Today we have German author Annemarie Nikolaus talking about that pesky inner editor.

Here’s Annemarie!

Years ago, my first try with NaNoWriMo was an enlightenment: to get those 50,000 words done (what I did) I had to stop massaging each sentence, till I believed it to be “right”. Just write, write, write – no matter what and no matter how. As they say: “You can always revise later, but you can’t revise an empty page.”

Okay, this we all know. But there is more to it. And it’s even more important: write “no matter what” turned out to be fun and adventurous. It let me discover connections between the characters and some twists I’d never thought of, because I did not know they existed.

Since then, I trust my characters to know what they are doing … Uhm … I try to trust them. There is one little green monster in my head who speaks up from time to time to tell me I don’t know what I’m doing.

Hell … But he is right.

What now?

Many writers at that point stop and begin to look how to fix things, maybe returning to plotting or even revising the whole thing. Me too. I sometimes still struggle not to begin brooding. Especially, when I have “too much time” – no deadline in sight.

But what else can you do, as you can’t deny it?

Instead of agonizing over the book, you might try another answer to your inner editor: Tell him you don’t need to know, because you have stuff at hand which will guide you through the novel. Your characters.

You don’t believe me? Then I have a story for you to illustrate.

During another NaNoWriMo I decided to write a historical, taking place in Naples during the revolt of 1647. At the beginning I had nothing more than my heroine, her brother and half a page about what might be the main conflict. I began to write, the story unfolded and the characters showed up. Everything was fine. But the most stunning thing happened after finishing the first draft: I discovered that the hero was one of the oldest noble families of France. And thus he had brought his own story with himself, based on the fact that in 1642 a Duke de Montmorency failed in a revolt against the French king and was executed. – The people in our stories know a lot more of themselves than we do.

In this case, being a historian, I obviously had found the name somewhere in my sub consciousness. All brooding and plotting would not have brought me there.

We can apply to our writing something psychoanalysis teaches: not to fight resistance, but to go along with it. When the inner editor shows up, let him growl, write on and have fun making stuff up.

With great success some friends have tested this same method to overcome writer’s block. Writer’s block means you dare not write, because nothing seems to be right or good enough. Now the trick is try to write as badly as you can. So you can happily tell your inner editor that you do it on purpose and he has to shut up.

By the way, you will be astonished how difficult it actually is to write really “bad”. I learned it working as a freelance journalist: Anything that I shipped was better than nothing. Whatever I sent, I had at least the chance to get paid. So I often began to write “last minute” without a clear idea in mind. Very rarely I had to revise.

Every writer is different, but maybe you are curious now: If you feel uncomfortable trying it with a “serious” project: November is not far away. You could free your calendar and subscribe to the next NaNoWriMo. You’ll have a lot of fun and perhaps kill that nasty inner editor forever.

© Annemarie Nikolaus

image002Annemarie Nikolaus is a German author and journalist. She writes in German. After twenty years in Italy she now lives in the heart of France.

So far, one of her short story collections has been published in English: ”Magical Stories”. She plans to publish the above mentioned Neapolitan historical in English, too.








Cindy here again!

Great post, Annemarie! I give myself permission to write crap the first time and go back and fix it later.

Happy writing!



Yves Fey’s Own Private NaNoWriMo

Today I’ve got Yves Fey on the blog talking about her own version of NaNoWriMo.

Here’s Yves!

Sporadically, but for several years, I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo, with varying degrees of failure. It is 180 degrees from my writing style and I feel intimidated, not freed, by its format.  Usually I plunge in valiantly, land with a resounding belly flop, then slink off and resume my usual plodding pace.  Nonetheless, this year I’ve decided to use NaNoWriMo as a goad.

My goal is simple, but significant—to further the second mystery in my series, which has been languishing for months.  I have a precious few chapters and scenes that I wrote about this time last year, before I entered the months long final edits and market phases for the release of the first book, Floats the Dark Shadow. The method for my own private NaNoWriMo is to write 1,000 words a day developing my synopsis bits into actual scenes or possibly even chapters.

I’m a plotter, not a pantser.  Tackling a novel is far too scary to me to attempt without the framework of an outline.  I spend about a month or two brooding over what I want to happen, the order of events, the conflicts.  This is combined with research, hunting for some intriguing historic bits to anchor the book in its era.  In the case of my sequel, I knew that the Dreyfus Case would be the backdrop long before I knew what story would play against it.  I have had my basic outline for some time, though I did a revision knowing November was fast approaching.  Although I think of my books as character driven, my struggles with synopses focuses on getting the events into a timeline, blocking out the emotional high points occur, and trying to spot the problems that will trip me up.  If I’m lucky, I will be granted bits of dialogue, the idea for an interesting twist, even a scene here and there.  Once I have the vision for the book laid out, my brain shuts down on adding details.  These outlines are fairly basic, and in the past I’ve tried to force development, only to find myself staring at a blank page for days or weeks.  I’ve learned that I really have to start writing before the rest will come.

I begin to write, and proceed, for the most part, chapter by chapter.  But I really can’t abide rough draft.  I’m appalled by the flatness of the prose, the clichés, and the characters chewing uncomfortably on the words shoved into their mouths.  Other plotters and pantsers forge ahead.  I begin to develop.  I work and rework until the story begins to come to life and the writing with it – a chicken or the egg sort of process whereby a good line of dialogue that I dream up suddenly fits the mouth it’s designed for.  Or the characters wake up and tell me what to write (please).  Again, others would forge on at this point.  But once the chapter is actually half decent, it’s fun.  I love revising!  I get new ideas, I quest for stronger verbs, subtleties of motivation emerge, descriptions blossom.  So, I enjoy myself until I have a finished chapter that I actually like well enough to move on.  This is a slow way to go about it, but it grounds me for the leap into the uncharted world on the next chapter, with no more than my synopsis snippet to guide me.   But despite doing a lot of preparation, as a writer I’m terribly dependent on inspiration, and often go through long dry periods of waiting for the muse to whisper.

So NaNoWriMo has always intrigued me because it does address one of my biggest problems—procrastination.  And once again I’m undertaking it, but on my own terms.  My primary goal is the 1,000 words a day.  I’ve also let myself do some building on the chapters I have, but only if I don’t linger if stuck.  I have succeeded more often than not, and I am also not berating myself if I don’t succeed, provided I do something.  I am not allowing myself to burrow in.  While I’m not going to attempt to write without editing, which I’ve learned is essentially impossible for me, neither am I allowing myself to sit staring at the page endlessly until the right word materializes.  I don’t flee the room if it doesn’t (except for more coffee).  If a few minutes of fiddling, sighing, and growling has produced nothing to further the chapter, I move on to another piece of the synopsis and see what can be brought to life from that segment of the novel.  I have not been all that happy with the writing so far, but I am happy that I’m undertaking the challenge.  I am going to do this for the month of November.  I didn’t sign up on the NaNoWriMo site.  This is my quiet sideline to the valiant frenzy I know is happening with the official participants.   It’s a more modest challenge, but a big one for me.

Wish me luck.

About Yves: Yves Fey has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eugene Oregon, and a BA in Pictorial Arts from UCLA.  She has read, written, and created art from childhood.  Floats the Dark Shadow is her debut mystery, set in Belle Époque Paris.  Writing as Gayle Feyrer and Taylor Chase, she previously wrote four dark and mysterious historical romances.  A chocolate connoisseur, she’s won prizes for her desserts.  Her current fascination is creating perfumes.  She’s traveled to many countries in Europe and lived for two years in Indonesia.  She currently lives in the San Francisco area with her husband and three cats, Marlowe the Investigator and the Flying Bronte Sisters.


Cindy here!

Thanks for being here Yves. Loved learning how you’re approaching NaNoWriMo. Good luck!

Happy writing!



A is for…Adoption Society

Today is the first day of the A – Z Blog Challenge. I hope to provide lots of useful writing information during the challenge and beyond. I guess you guys will be the judge of that. 🙂


The adoption society in the post title is not about children or pets. It refers to the forum topics in the NaNoWriMo website and the ScriptFrenzy website. Ever wanted to write something but didn’t know what to write? Ever known you’d never write a story idea you had but you didn’t want it to go to waste? That’s what the adoption society is for. Ideas/story concepts available for anyone who wants them. If you’ve never checked them out you really should. You don’t need to be a member to view the posts but I highly recommend joining if you’re a writer.


What I love about the adoption society is how much choice there is. You can adopt almost anything from a story idea, a useless talent, a magical power, a fear, an opening line. There are probably hundreds of things you can adopt. I have no problem coming up with ideas but I’ve procrastinated a lot going through the adopt a plot threads. Some of those ideas are awesome! I can’t believe the people who came up with them didn’t want to write them. I found a few I’m going to eventually write.


Stay tuned for B tomorrow!


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