Four Ways to Control Your Inner Editor

by Joe Bunting | 93 comments

If you are a writer, you know about the voice inside your head that talks non-stop while you try and work on your writing. It may give you advice on how to fix what you just wrote. It may tell you you're no good at writing and that you should take up a different hobby. It may just distract you.

This voice is your Inner Editor. Here are four ways to control your Inner Editor and keep it from distracting you as you write.

No more words

Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer

1. Draw a picture.

What does your Inner Editor look like? When it talks to you, is it tall or short? Skinny or fat? Mean or condescending? Is it a boy or a girl? Picture your inner editor and draw exactly what he or she looks like on a piece of paper.

Then put a piece of duct tape over his or her mouth. Your Inner Editor needs to be quiet while you're writing!

2. Put your Inner Editor away!

Now that you have a picture of your Inner Editor, you need to put it somewhere where you can't hear it.

It's going to be hard for it to talk with that duct tape over its mouth, but just to be safe, put the picture in a spot far away from your writing area. Some good spots to put it is in a junk drawer, under your bed, at the bottom of your hamper, or, better yet, in a safe with a combination lock.

Wherever you put it, make sure it's no where near your computer or your writing desk.

3. Write.

Ahh . . . You hear that silence? Isn't it so much easier to concentrate and write now that your Inner Editor is silent?

Sit down at your writing desk or computer and write. Work on a current project or a completely new one. If you can still hear your Inner Editor, you haven't hidden it well enough. Make sure he or she is completely hidden before you write.

4. Edit.

Congratulations! You were able to write without your Inner Editor bothering you! Now it's time to edit. You've written a story, poem, report, or something else without your Inner Editor telling you what to do.

Now that you need to edit what you just wrote, go get your Inner Editor out from under your bed or wherever you put it, rip the duct tape off of its mouth, and let it jabber away.

Now that it's time to edit, you could use its help!

Do you have problems taming your inner editor? What do you do to stop it from distracting you from writing?

PRACTICE

Draw a picture of your Inner Editor, put the duct tape on its mouth, take a picture of it, and hide it. Then free write for fifteen minutes.

After fifteen minutes, feel free to bring your Inner Editor back out for revisions. Post your free write in the comments section, and if you want, upload your picture of your Inner Editor.

Have fun!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

93 Comments

  1. Ben Allen

    I wonder how many inner editors look like spouses or parents 😛

    Reply
    • mariannehvest

      Children can be pretty heavy editors too but I am drawing a monster.  I am hoping it will upload but I have to go out probably before it’s finished. Maybe tonight.

    • Themagicviolinist

       Ha ha! 😀 Can’t wait to see it, marianne!

  2. Leti Del Mar

    My Inner Editor looks like my High School AP English teacher….Scary!

    Reply
  3. Marla4

    Love this exercise, Magic Violinist.  Thank you.

    The town is named December, an odd name, and you’d think they’d
    at least capitalize on it, maybe throw up a few Christmas trees, decorate the storefronts,
    turn it into a year-round frenzy of holiday wonder.

    But no, they don’t.  It’s
    a one-horse kind of town, bad roads and one greasy spoon.  It’s my last stop before home.  I’m here to look at land, to see where my
    bosses might want to build their boxy apartments for the elderly that are
    funded by the government.

    I’ve been on board for five years and I’ve traveled this country
    and I’ve seen the big cities rising up, all glass and bad air and itchy buses
    that groan through the streets.

    But my work is done in towns like December, where poor folk with
    cheap land light up when I offer them money for property that they’re having a
    hard time paying taxes on.

    I’m driving across a bridge that looks like it’s held together
    by rust alone.  Across the way is
    farmland, soybeans and cotton, the green and white of it achingly beautiful in
    the morning light.  If we build here, the
    fields will have to go, at least most of them.

    In Tunica, Mississippi, the crops grow almost to the doors of
    the Indian casinos.  Some old guy on a
    tractor will be close enough to touch when you park your car in the wide
    parking lot.  He won’t look at you.  You’re part of the problem.  So, he rumbles by, a farmer in a new land,
    and you go in and lose your money and stumble out into the night, broken and
    stinking of smoke, and the corn still grows. 
    Win or lose, the corn still grows.

    I drive on until I hit a patch of house trailers.  These places are like jackpots to my
    bosses.  The folks here, their trailers
    aren’t bolted to the land and neither are they. 
    And they sell cheap, too cheap even in these hard times, and they head
    to Walmart and load their carts up with particle board furniture that won’t
    last through deer season.

    A woman is sitting in a red recliner on the dirt that makes up
    her yard.  She looks like ten miles of
    bad road, her hair a mess, her shorts too short, her cowboy boots old and
    scuffed.  She’s drinking coffee from a
    measuring cup.

    I get out of my car.  “Morning,”
    I say. 

    She looks up, looks me over and says, “You a bill collector?”

    “No.”

    “Checking on the kids?” she asks.

    “No, I’m in real estate,” I say. “Do you own this place?”

    “Uh huh,” she says, and waves me over.

    “Pull up a chair,” she says, and I look around.  There’s nothing but a kid’s wagon and a mop
    bucket.  I turn the bucket over, run my
    hand across it and sit.

    “Gonna get your fancy jeans dirty,” she says.

    “No worries,” I say.  “They’ll
    wash.”

    “How much land is there?” I ask.

    “Forty-two acres. Starts at the road and goes all the way to the
    creek back there,” she says and points past the row of trailers.

    “And you own it outright?”

    “Daddy left it to me,” she says.

    “And taxes?”

    “Late,” she says.  “Two
    years.”

    If I wait another year, I can buy it at auction when the county
    puts it up for sale.  It could be a
    bargain, but those auctions are fraught with trouble.  Fights break out sometimes, the bidders crazy
    to get the land.  The police are there,
    their guns showing in leather holsters for all to see. 

    “You interested in selling?”

    “Maybe,” she says.

    She hasn’t asked me my name or who I work for.  So I don’t ask hers.

    “Feel like showing it to me?” I ask.

    She gets up slow.  She’s a
    small woman, and probably younger than me, but I can’t say for sure.  She has a scar that runs from the top of her
    nose to her chin, and she’s frowning.  In
    a good dress with good lighting, she might be pretty.  Here, she looks like an ad for the severely
    depressed.

    We walk past three trailers. 
    There are tires atop each one, a precaution for when the winds come,
    when the storms blow in, and threaten to topple the flimsy houses.  There is a barrel filled with aluminum cans,
    and farther away another barrel where trash is burning.

    We cross a footbridge and there’s a meadow beyond.  The grass is high, up to my waist, and we
    wade through it.  I will have chiggers
    tomorrow, I know, and I’ll be scratching like crazy.  We walk until the meadow fades and there’s a
    pond up the way, and a boy, six or seven, is fishing.

    “My boy,” she says, and we walk past.  He looks our way and I wave.  He waves back.

    “Cute,” I say.

    “Looks like his daddy,” she says, and I don’t know if that’s a
    compliment or not.

    The land is perfect. Not too flat, so there won’t be a flooding
    problem, and not too hilly, so they’re won’t be major excavation work.

    There’s a corral to my right, overgrown with weeds.  “I used to play here,” she says.  “Had a horse.” She smiles. “Bessie.  Loved that horse.  Daddy kept cattle,” she says, and points to
    the west. “Had a barn once. 

    “It burned,” she said, before I could ask.

    “Then Daddy got sick.  We
    sold the cattle.”

    There are hawks circling. 

    “I’m sorry,” I say, and she shakes her head.

    “You didn’t cause any of it,” she says, and I grow quiet.

    “This used to be a proud place,” she says.  “We had a house, rock and cedar. I rode in
    the rodeo. We had people over.

    “But Daddy didn’t have insurance, and he needed doctoring, so we
    sold the house and five acres.  We moved
    to the trailers, and I watched him go down.

    “Terrible,” she says, and closes her eyes.

    “I couldn’t do a thing. 
    You know how bad that feels?”

    I shake my head.

    “I hope you never do,” she says.

    “What will you do if you sell your land?” I asked.

    “I always wanted to go to beauty school,” she says. “I’d go.”

    We walk back. The briars have torn a gash in her leg, and the
    blood flows.  She stops long enough to
    pull the stickers out and I offer a Kleenex from my pocket.

    I can tell she wants to say more.  There is money at stake, and she needs
    it.  But she only holds out her
    hand.  I shake it, give her my card, and
    tell her I’ll be in touch.

    I stop on my way to the car, and I ask. “Why’d they call this
    place December?”

    She smiles, a little half smile. “Because it’s the end of the
    road, the last page on the calendar. 
    Nowhere to go from here,” she says.

    I look around.  The pine
    trees sway in the breeze.  The boy is
    walking up, his fishing pole empty. Next year he might be in the city, with a
    jacked up haircut, courtesy of his practicing mother.

    The pond will go away, too much liability for my bosses.  The corral will crumble under the wheels of
    the bulldozer.  Nothing will look like it
    does today, here at the end of everything.

    Reply
    • Tom Wideman

      That’s a great story, Marla! I can totally envision this scene in my head. You paint a compelling story with words. It appears you were able to keep your inner editor at bay long enough to come up with this. Good job!

    • Marla4

       Thanks Tom.  I’m afraid my inner editor looks a lot like me.  If I can push past the first paragraph without scrapping the whole thing, I’m lucky.

    • Marianne

      Although it sounds like a depressing place, it makes me sad to think of it being bulldozed.  You write so well, the pace and the descripiton are great as well as the dialogue.  My favorite part is when he sits on the bucket. That detail in itself describes so much that is going on in this story.  Thanks

    • Marla4

       I worked for developers once who did that all the time.  They’d go to a pristine farm, level it and put up apartments.  Awful.

    • Themagicviolinist

       Sad story. I love how she answer why the town is named December. That was a great line. You have the way southerners talk down to a science. Well done. 🙂

    • Marla4

       Thank you.  December would be a good name for a town.  We have a town named Romance here.  And Need More.  And Short and Long in Oklahoma.  It would be fun to name towns.

    • Themagicviolinist

       It would be fun to name towns. 🙂

    • Kate Hewson

      Did I ever mention I love your writing Marla?? haha…awesome as ever. There is a lot of loss and sadness in this piece. And Beauty.

    • Marla4

       Thank you, Kate!  I love YOUR writing.  We should start a club.

    • Jeff Ellis

      Wow Marla, this is amazing. Not only is it well written, I appreciate that it is a full story in its own right. Beginning, middle, and end. So often I wind up writing vignettes instead of stories. I’m jealous of this practice, haha! Great job.

    • Marla4

      Jeff, you’re so kind.  And I’ll take jealousy anytime I can get it!  Can’t wait to read your practice.

    • Juliana Austen

      I wasn’t sure about the first person at the start but by the end I really appreciated the way it allowed the story to unfold in a non-judgemental way. Is it good is it bad – well its up to the reader to decide – i like that.

  4. Julia

    My inner editor looks like a know-it-all version of me. Too bad I can’t draw me, but I guess I got the sarcastic little smile just right.

    Reply
    • Julia again

      The picture isn’t perfect, and you can totally tell I’m terrible at drawing, but here it is anyway 😉

  5. Tom Wideman

    How I ever came into existence is a miracle in and of itself. The very thought of my parents “doing it” is totally inconceivable to me. I have always heard opposites attract, but not my folks. They are more than just opposites; they are repellents  They are two polarized magnets unable to connect. 

    But apparently after my dad had too much to drink, or should I say, he finally had enough to drink, he lost all reason and caved into his primal urges. Nine months later, I was born. And we all lived happily… scratch that, we all lived. 

    So here I sit, trying to write and my mother is looking over my shoulder telling me some elaborate story. I don’t know if it’s true or if she’s making it up as she goes, but she will not shut up. She’s on a roll. But I have to admit, I do love her stories. She’s so dramatic when she tells them. She reminds me of a much larger and older Tinker Bell. She flits around the room waving her arms through the air with overly-dramatic gestures. I remember one time as a kid; I could have sworn I saw showers of pixie dust cascading from her hands. 

    Then, just as my mom reaches the turning point of her story, my old man barges in, and it’s as if he sucks the oxygen right out of the room. My mom loses her ability to fly and collapses in the corner of the room in a fetal position. Dad marches over and grabs my shoulders tightly with his large calloused hands while nosing into my business. 

    “Boy, what is this mess?”

    “I’m trying to write a story,” I explain.

    “A story?! So you think you’re a writer?! That’s hilarious,” Dad shouts.

    “Mom says I’m pretty good,” I say, but dad’s not listening.

    “If you’re so great at writing, why did you start off with that sentence? And look here, you changed tenses right in the middle of a paragraph. Writers don’t make those kinds of mistakes.”

    I can feel my face get red hot. 

    “Dad, I love you, but get the hell out of my room, NOW! Mom was in the middle of a great story, inspiring me. But you are a total distraction right now. I’ll call you in after I’m finished and you can help me edit then.

    Surprisingly enough, dad willingly leaves the room without saying anything. I walk over and help my mother stand to her feet.

    “So where were?” I ask.

    Reply
    • Marianne

       What a pair of characters.  I can see them both in my mind’s eye.  The mother sounds kind of crazy but the father seems to be mean so the boy should have lots to write about.  My favorite line is when you say the father had too much to drink or maybe enough to drink. Well done Tom. Thanks

    • Themagicviolinist

      What a crazy story! I love the description of his mom being tinker bell. 🙂

    • Themagicviolinist

      I read over it again and thought of a piece of advice I had forgotten to tell you: I think the kid exploded too fast. It seemed a little out of the blue. Try leading up to it. Show his anger building before he yells at his dad.  Otherwise, great job! 😀

    • Tom Wideman

      I agree. But I get in a hurry on these 15 minute practices and tend to rush the story so i can have a nice wrap up. I’m not sure if anyone caught it or not, but I was attempting to personify my struggle with my inner editor and my muse through the parents. Just curious if you caught that?

    • mariannehvest

      I see it now that you mention it, and it’s much better for knowing that.  Maybe you  should title it or otherwise strongly hint that it’s an analogy to begin with.  I don’t think I’ve ever “gotten” an analogy unless I was looking for one.  It’s good either way but much better as an analogy.

    • Themagicviolinist

       I thought that was probably the problem, but I thought I would just point it out just in case you decide to turn this into a lengthened short stories, or something. 😉
      Veeeerrry nice! I did not think of that, but now that you mention it, I can see it.

    • Marla4

       Well, you made me love the mother and hate the father in just a few sentences.  Love this.  It made me wonder what the mother saw in the father.  Maybe she was drinking too!

    • Tom Wideman

      Yeah, I tend to love the mother more as well. I was attempting to personify my muse as the mother and my inner editor as the dad, but not sure if anyone caught it.

    • Marla4

       I did! It’s especially clear when he invites the dad back after he’s finished writing.

    • Katie Axelson

      Great story of the mouse overcoming the lion, Tom.

    • Tom Wideman

      Thanks Katie. It was actually a story of my muse overcoming my inner editor.

  6. Jason Dookeran

    My problem is not getting my inner editor to shut up, it’s getting him to say something. Any ideas on how I get him to start editing?

    Reply
    • Themagicviolinist

       Hmmm. I’ve never heard of a quiet Inner Editor. :/ Try engaging it in a conversation. That should do it. 😉

  7. Ashley E. Kilday

    “We’re just two sleepy people
    tonight,” Elisa murmured, snuggling into Jake’s shoulder.  Jake nodded and shifted so that his cheek
    rested more comfortably on her head.  “I
    can’t seem to wake up.”

    “Too much in love to say goodnight,”
    he agreed.  “But I’m out of things to
    say.”

    “This night has been incredible.  I didn’t think Paris was actually this
    romantic.  Thank you.”

    Silence settled over the pair, as
    the light from the full moon overhead embraced them with its proxy, the warm
    summer air of Paris.  The rain from
    earlier in the afternoon had gently washed the sky clean of its usual pollution
    and dampened the old buildings so that they were now veritably glowing.  Glistening beside the pair, an empty bottle of
    wine and two mostly-empty glasses told a story of newlywed toasts and fresh
    strawberries from the open market.  Around
    their silvery rims echoed the tinkle of silverware and the sounds of sweet
    laughter from the bride and her husband.

    Elisa and Jake drowsed for a long
    time on the stone balcony of their historic hotel until finally they shook away
    their stupor long enough to enter their room and curl together for the first
    time in a luxurious bed.  Tomorrow their
    honeymoon would continue, but tonight they were just two sleepy people, too
    much in love to say goodnight.

    Reply
  8. Ashley E. Kilday

    “We’re just two sleepy people
    tonight,” Elisa murmured, snuggling into Jake’s shoulder.  Jake nodded and shifted so that his cheek
    rested more comfortably on her head.  “I
    can’t seem to wake up.”

    “Too much in love to say goodnight,”
    he agreed.  “But I’m out of things to
    say.”

    “This night has been incredible.  I didn’t think Paris was actually this
    romantic.  Thank you.”

    Silence settled over the pair, as
    the light from the full moon overhead embraced them with its proxy, the warm
    summer air of Paris.  The rain from
    earlier in the afternoon had gently washed the sky clean of its usual pollution
    and dampened the old buildings so that they were now veritably glowing.  Glistening beside the pair, an empty bottle of
    wine and two mostly-empty glasses told a story of newlywed toasts and fresh
    strawberries from the open market.  Around
    their silvery rims echoed the tinkle of silverware and the sounds of sweet
    laughter from the bride and her husband.

    Elisa and Jake drowsed for a long
    time on the stone balcony of their historic hotel until finally they shook away
    their stupor long enough to enter their room and curl together for the first
    time in a luxurious bed.  Tomorrow their
    honeymoon would continue, but tonight they were just two sleepy people, too
    much in love to say goodnight.

    Reply
    • Marla4

       What a beautiful scene, Ashley.  I love the way the city feels, like it’s as sleepy and content as the couple.

    • mariannehvest

      That’s a beautiful scene Ashley.  I love the very last line. 

    • Katie Axelson

      I love the second to last paragraph.

    • Themagicviolinist

       Very poetic. I love the descriptions. Short and sweet, good job. 🙂

  9. Ashley E. Kilday

    Oh, my Inner Editor (who is apparently Miranda Priestly… no wonder I never get anything done!…) didn’t attach to the comment! Blast!

    Reply
  10. mariannehvest

    How do you add a picture?

    Reply
    • Themagicviolinist

       There should be a little plus sign that says “Image” next to it on the bottom left corner of the comment box. :/

    • mariannehvest

      I’ve tried to post many times both a story and a picture and it keeps saying it has to be reviewed.  I’ve never had this happen before.  I’m kind of bummed out by it.  

    • Themagicviolinist

       Oh no! 🙁 I don’t know what to do about that. If you have a blog, you could try posting it on your blog and then posting a link.

  11. mariannehvest

    I’m going to write about the inner editor while she’s not able to see what I’m writing.  She is really a pain but I’m kind of scared of her.  She’s facedown on the table with a paperweight on top of her as I write.  

    She acts like she knows precisely how everything should be written. She does know a lot, but she isn’t right about everything. She has absolutely no understanding of art.  I tell her “Editor you have to be a little crazy now and then. Art is about breaking the rules.”  

    She sniffs and says “There is no art without rules Marianne, just chaos.  Some may call that art but I certainly don’t. Jasper Johns for goodness sake, how many did he fool, the charlatan?  Sit up straight and mind your commas and semi-colons, Marianne. It will pay off in the end.”

    Sometimes I try to ignore her and she pouts. Then I’ll try to appease her by letting her check each page but that’s never enough.  Pretty soon she’s hanging over my shoulder and trying to get a word in at the end of each paragraph, then each sentence.

    “Move over,” I say “You’re stifling me.”

    “Oh you don’t need my help, I guess,” she’ll say in a huff.  “Well just so you know you misspelled ‘environment’ again, and, let me just add before I go, remember to never start the names of two characters in a story with the same letter.”

    I feel like saying “That’s stupid” about the name thing but I don’t like to make the editor mad because I do need her.  

    One day I said “Let’s just play today and really write tomorrow.”

    She didn’t even answer just gave me a sour look like I was really not worth trifling with. 

     

    “I just want to write for fun anyway,” I said to her once.  “I’m getting old.  This isn’t a career for me. It’s just something I want to do, something I love to do most of the time.” I didn’t add that is was the times I loved to write were when she was gone.  

    “I know you are getting old,” she said, and she rolled her eyes heavenward. “That’s why you have to get it right honey.  Do you want them to find all these errors after you die? Think of the embarrassment for your family?”

    I felt like saying “my family won’t care and probably will just chuck most of it anyway”, but I didn’t. I just decided to spend the afternoon reading instead of writing. 

    I’m going to let her out now and she may be angry.   I hope her picture comes out okay.

    Reply
  12. mariannehvest

    I’m going to write about the inner editor while she’s not able to see what I’m writing.  She is really a pain but I’m kind of scared of her.  She’s facedown on the table with a paperweight on top of her as I write.  

    She acts like she knows precisely how everything should be written. She does know a lot, but she isn’t right about everything. She has absolutely no understanding of art.  I tell her “Editor you have to be a little crazy now and then. Art is about breaking the rules.”  

    She sniffs and says “There is no art without rules Marianne, just chaos.  Some may call that art but I certainly don’t. Jasper Johns for goodness sake, how many did he fool, the charlatan?  Sit up straight and mind your commas and semi-colons, Marianne. It will pay off in the end.”

    Sometimes I try to ignore her and she pouts. Then I’ll try to appease her by letting her check each page but that’s never enough.  Pretty soon she’s hanging over my shoulder and trying to get a word in at the end of each paragraph, then each sentence.

    “Move over,” I say “You’re stifling me.”

    “Oh you don’t need my help, I guess,” she’ll say in a huff.  “Well just so you know you misspelled ‘environment’ again, and, let me just add before I go, remember to never start the names of two characters in a story with the same letter.”

    I feel like saying “That’s stupid” about the name thing but I don’t like to make the editor mad because I do need her.  

    One day I said “Let’s just play today and really write tomorrow.”

    She didn’t even answer just gave me a sour look like I was really not worth trifling with. 

     

    “I just want to write for fun anyway,” I said to her once.  “I’m getting old.  This isn’t a career for me. It’s just something I want to do, something I love to do most of the time.” I didn’t add that is was the times I loved to write were when she was gone.  

    “I know you are getting old,” she said, and she rolled her eyes heavenward. “That’s why you have to get it right honey.  Do you want them to find all these errors after you die? Think of the embarrassment for your family?”

    I felt like saying “my family won’t care and probably will just chuck most of it anyway”, but I didn’t. I just decided to spend the afternoon reading instead of writing. 

    I’m going to let her out now and she may be angry.   I hope her picture comes out okay.

    Reply
  13. mariannehvest

    Here is the editor but I think she’s going to be too little to see.  Oh well. That was fun!

    Reply
  14. mariannehvest

    Well I tried. I wrote one and attached a picture but it won’t load. When it does, it will probably load twenty times.  

    Reply
  15. Karl Tobar

    My inner editor wears a monocle and smokes cigars.  He cannot be satisfied. 🙁

    Reply
  16. Zeliares

    Great post MV. Are you sure you,r only twelve?

    Reply
    • Themagicviolinist

       Thanks, Zeliares! 😀

  17. Juliana Austen

    She is kind but firm my inner editor – she carries a big red pencil and she sighs in exasperation as she crosses out screeds of material. This is what I have left – she is still very concerned about it with a host of questions about why and where and what for but I have no answers.

    He hadn’t cried since he was a boy – well
    that wasn’t so very long ago. He wasn’t crying now but his face was smeared with the
    dried tracks of tears through dust and grime. They had been tears of
    frustration, of anger. He had stopped crying when the light went out. The
    anxiety, the panic had come and gone now there was nothing  just the effort required to put one foot
    in front of the other.

    He stumbled a little and almost lost the
    wall. Somewhere, sometime he had read that the way to get out of a maze was to
    follow the right side. Eventually, if you always kept the right on your side
    you would find your way out. He doubted he would get out. But it was against
    his nature to sit and wait for death he would rather walk towards Him or the
    other him.
    At first he had thought about her and about the life they might have led. He
    had tried hard for her but now she was a fading memory. She had meant so much
    in his life – his all, his beginning his end. But he was at the end now and she
    was not here.  If it had been love
    surely she would still be with him.

    The torch had been more important to him
    until it failed – that was when he had remembered the right side thing. He
    almost laughed what if it had been the left what if the right doesn’t take you
    out of a subterranean dungeon only the left.

    His whole body craved water and warmth. He
    could rest but he knew Death would come quickly if he rested. He did not want
    them to find him curled up, defeated. If they never found him – he would become
    a mystery. A ghost that walked down here, one that moaned in caverns, that left
    storm troopers whimpering and terrified.

    He sensed the difference in the air, a
    slight disturbance. When you could not see, when there was no sound you relied
    on touch – the first sense – the primal sense. He reached out to the other side
    there was nothing there, a gap, an absence on his left. Hah! Left! It felt like
    a natural chasm, a narrow fracture in the tunnel system. He squeezed into the
    cleft and went down, down and to the left not trying to get up to the light by
    following the right but down and to the left and to immortality. Death was
    there, either way.

    Reply
    • Themagicviolinist

       Ooh. Very mysterious and very well written. Loved it! 😀

  18. mariannehvest

    I’m going to write about the inner editor while she’s not able to see what I’m writing.  She is really a pain but I’m kind of scared of her.  She’s facedown on the table with a paperweight on top of her as I write.  

    She acts like she knows precisely how everything should be written. She does know a lot, but she isn’t right about everything. She has absolutely no understanding of art.  I tell her “Editor you have to be a little crazy now and then. Art is about breaking the rules.”  

    She sniffs and says “There is no art without rules Marianne, just chaos.  Some may call that art but I certainly don’t. Jasper Johns for goodness sake, how many did he fool, the charlatan?  Sit up straight and mind your commas and semi-colons, Marianne. It will pay off in the end.”

    Sometimes I try to ignore her and she pouts. Then I’ll try to appease her by letting her check each page but that’s never enough.  Pretty soon she’s hanging over my shoulder and trying to get a word in at the end of each paragraph, then each sentence.

    “Move over,” I say “You’re stifling me.”

    “Oh you don’t need my help, I guess,” she’ll say in a huff.  “Well just so you know you misspelled ‘environment’ again, and, let me just add before I go, remember to never start the names of two characters in a story with the same letter.”

    I feel like saying “That’s stupid” about the name thing but I don’t like to make the editor mad because I do need her.  

    One day I said “Let’s just play today and really write tomorrow.”

    She didn’t even answer just gave me a sour look like I was really not worth trifling with. 

     

    “I just want to write for fun anyway,” I said to her once.  “I’m getting old.  This isn’t a career for me. It’s just something I want to do, something I love to do most of the time.” I didn’t add that is was the times I loved to write were when she was gone.  

    “I know you are getting old,” she said, and she rolled her eyes heavenward. “That’s why you have to get it right honey.  Do you want them to find all these errors after you die? Think of the embarrassment for your family?”

    I felt like saying “my family won’t care and probably will just chuck most of it anyway”, but I didn’t. I just decided to spend the afternoon reading instead of writing. 

    I’m going to let her out now and she may be angry.   I hope her picture comes out okay.

    Reply
  19. mariannehvest

    I’m going to write about the inner editor while she’s not able to see what I’m writing.  She is really a pain but I’m kind of scared of her.  She’s facedown on the table with a paperweight on top of her as I write.  

    She acts like she knows precisely how everything should be written. She does know a lot, but she isn’t right about everything. She has absolutely no understanding of art.  I tell her “Editor you have to be a little crazy now and then. Art is about breaking the rules.”  

    She sniffs and says “There is no art without rules Marianne, just chaos.  Some may call that art but I certainly don’t. Jasper Johns for goodness sake, how many did he fool, the charlatan?  Sit up straight and mind your commas and semi-colons, Marianne. It will pay off in the end.”

    Sometimes I try to ignore her and she pouts. Then I’ll try to appease her by letting her check each page but that’s never enough.  Pretty soon she’s hanging over my shoulder and trying to get a word in at the end of each paragraph, then each sentence.

    “Move over,” I say “You’re stifling me.”

    “Oh you don’t need my help, I guess,” she’ll say in a huff.  “Well just so you know you misspelled ‘environment’ again, and, let me just add before I go, remember to never start the names of two characters in a story with the same letter.”

    I feel like saying “That’s stupid” about the name thing but I don’t like to make the editor mad because I do need her.  

    One day I said “Let’s just play today and really write tomorrow.”

    She didn’t even answer just gave me a sour look like I was really not worth trifling with. 

     

    “I just want to write for fun anyway,” I said to her once.  “I’m getting old.  This isn’t a career for me. It’s just something I want to do, something I love to do most of the time.” I didn’t add that is was the times I loved to write were when she was gone.  

    “I know you are getting old,” she said, and she rolled her eyes heavenward. “That’s why you have to get it right honey.  Do you want them to find all these errors after you die? Think of the embarrassment for your family?”

    I felt like saying “my family won’t care and probably will just chuck most of it anyway”, but I didn’t. I just decided to spend the afternoon reading instead of writing. 

    I’m going to let her out now and she may be angry.   I hope her picture comes out okay.  

    Reply
  20. mariannehvest

    I love it!!!  I think the inability to be satisfied my be characteristic of most inner editors.  But I don’t feel sorry for them. 

    Reply
  21. Jeff Ellis

    It takes him less than two minutes to toss up the symbol of the Resisters with a green paint marker. Down the street, two watchmen are heading in his direction. They haven’t seen him yet and they’re taking their time, enjoying the cool night air. He stuffs the marker in his backpack, pulls his hood up and continues on his way. 

    When he is almost to the train station he hears the watchers shouting. Looking back, a kid is running into an alley across the street from where he left the tag of the Fist. “Tough break, kid,” he thinks as the watchmen chase after the civilian. He feels equal parts regret and relief when the patrolmen are out of sight. 

    The train is crowded as usual. No one speaks. In the entire car, he’s the only person with their head up. Suits and nicely cut hair, everything in its proper black and white. If they weren’t set on staring at their feet, they might notice his faint pink lipstick, or the green shine of his hair, but no one looks for anything out of the ordinary anymore.

    He gets off at Halloway Station and makes for South End. It’s easier in Halloway. Everyone’s resisting, whether they’re out about it or not. They still get just as many watchmen, but in Halloway even the watch are Resisters. Of course, if the Eye were to spot any strange activity, they would have to keep up the act, so he makes sure to stay out of their way. 

    Halfway home a spotlight slaps down hard on his location before panning away to his right. It traces an oval of sharp white down a once-black alleyway, scurrying a few street toughs into dumpsters and under cars. The chopper hovers above the alley as if to say “I’m not going anywhere, boys.” After five minutes or so, the punks come out of hiding, holding a hand over their eyes as they look up at the helicopter.

    Men repel down into the alley, stun-batons crackling to life. He could run home, be safe in minutes, but he crouches behind a large blue mailbox and watches the whole scene go down. A quick tussle, the flash and buzz of batons sparking against flesh and then punks and watchmen alike zip back up to the chopper. No one will ever see those idiots again. They had been wearing too much red, too much blue, too much everything. The steel bats and metal chains hadn’t done much for their operation either.

    He knew better. He knew how to hide in plain sight. Blend in. Don’t make a scene. Keep your colors saturated and make sure they’re something you can hide or easily dispose of. Out and out primaries like that? They had to have known they’d be copter’d to Disposal before they could take so much as a stand.

    Reply
    • mariannehvest

      Good writing as usual Jeff.  I particularly like the idea that he hides by not wearing primary colors and by blending in.  There is apparently no freedom of expression in this age.  I really enjoyed this. 

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Marianne! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    • Themagicviolinist

       I love all of the onomatopoeias you use! 😀 (Flash, zip, buzz, crackling). Nice job!

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Violinist! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    • Marla4

       Brilliant writing.  So visual and I love the pacing.  My favorite line is this: If they weren’t set on staring at their feet, they might notice his
      faint pink lipstick, or the green shine of his hair, but no one looks
      for anything out of the ordinary anymore.

    • Jeff Ellis

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Marla! I try to keep my writing focused on scenes and characters, without too much exposition. 

    • Juliana Austen

      Edgy but real!

  22. mariannehvest

    I’m going to write about the inner editor while she’s not able to see what I’m writing.  She is really a pain but I’m kind of scared of her.  She’s facedown on the table with a paperweight on top of her as I write.  

    She acts like she knows precisely how everything should be written. She does know a lot, but she isn’t right about everything. She has absolutely no understanding of art.  I tell her “Editor you have to be a little crazy now and then. Art is about breaking the rules.”  

    She sniffs and says “There is no art without rules Marianne, just chaos.  Some may call that art but I certainly don’t. Jasper Johns for goodness sake, how many did he fool?  He was a charlatan. Sit up straight and mind your commas and semi-colons, Marianne. It will pay off in the end.”

    Sometimes I try to ignore her and she pouts. Then I’ll try to appease her by letting her check each page but that’s never enough.  Pretty soon she’s hanging over my shoulder and trying to get a word in at the end of each paragraph, then each sentence.

    “Move over,” I say “You’re stifling me.”

    “Oh you don’t need my help, I guess,” she’ll say in a huff.  “Well just so you know you misspelled ‘environment’ again, and, let me just add before I go, remember to never start the names of two characters in a story with the same letter.”

    I feel like saying “That’s stupid” about the name thing but I don’t like to make the editor mad because I do need her.  

    One day I said “Let’s just play today and really write tomorrow.”

    She didn’t even answer just gave me a sour look like I was really not worth trifling with. 

     

    “I just want to write for fun anyway,” I said to her once.  “I’m getting old.  This isn’t a career for me. It’s just something I want to do, something I love to do most of the time.” I didn’t add that the times I love to write are the times that she’s gone.  

    “I know you are getting old,” she said, and she rolled her eyes heavenward. “That’s why you have to get it right honey.  Do you want them to find all these errors in your stories after you die? Think of the embarrassment for your family?”

    I felt like saying “my family won’t care and probably will just chuck most of it anyway”, but I didn’t. I just decided to spend the afternoon reading instead of writing. 

    I’m going to let her out now and she may be angry.   I hope her picture comes out okay.  

    Reply
  23. mariannehvest

    She does look intimidating but I’m not sure why, maybe the raised glasses or maybe the way her eyebrow on the left is arched. 

    Reply
  24. mariannehvest

    This isn’t terrible.  I like it. 

    Reply
  25. Themagicviolinist

     I love it! 😀

    Reply
  26. Themagicviolinist

     Your Inner Editor looks very mad. You did a good job drawing it! 😀

    Reply
    • mariannehvest

      Thanks, it was fun.  

  27. Themagicviolinist

     She does look very intimidating. I think mine is a little more shy looking (until you get to know it). 😉

    Reply
  28. Themagicviolinist

     She does look like a know-it-all. Is she sarcastic? She looks it a bit. 😉 I like it!

    Reply
  29. Marla4

     That inner editor might stop me in my tracks!

    Reply
    • mariannehvest

      Yeah she can be a meanie, but thanks to this exercise she is somewhat under control.  

  30. mariannehvest

    I’m going to write about the inner editor while she’s not able to see what I’m writing.  She is really a pain but I’m kind of scared of her.  She’s facedown on the table with a paperweight on top of her as I write.  

    She acts like she knows precisely how everything should be written. She does know a lot, but she isn’t right about everything. She has absolutely no understanding of art.  I tell her “Editor you have to be a little crazy now and then. Art is about breaking the rules.”  

    She sniffs and says “There is no art without rules Marianne, just chaos.  Some may call that art but I certainly don’t. Jasper Johns for goodness sake, how many did he fool?  He was a charlatan. Sit up straight and mind your commas and semi-colons, Marianne. It will pay off in the end.”

    Sometimes I try to ignore her and she pouts. Then I’ll try to appease her by letting her check each page but that’s never enough.  Pretty soon she’s hanging over my shoulder and trying to get a word in at the end of each paragraph, then each sentence.

    “Move over,” I say “You’re stifling me.”

    “Oh you don’t need my help, I guess,” she’ll say in a huff.  “Well just so you know you misspelled ‘environment’ again, and, let me just add before I go, remember to never start the names of two characters in a story with the same letter.”

    I feel like saying “That’s stupid” about the name thing but I don’t like to make the editor mad because I do need her.  

    One day I said “Let’s just play today and really write tomorrow.”

    She didn’t even answer just gave me a sour look like I was really not worth trifling with. 

     

    “I just want to write for fun anyway,” I said to her once.  “I’m getting old.  This isn’t a career for me. It’s just something I want to do, something I love to do most of the time.” I didn’t add that the times I love to write are the times that she’s gone.  

    “I know you are getting old,” she said, and she rolled her eyes heavenward. “That’s why you have to get it right honey.  Do you want them to find all these errors in your stories after you die? Think of the embarrassment for your family?”

    I felt like saying “my family won’t care and probably will just chuck most of it anyway”, but I didn’t. I just decided to spend the afternoon reading instead of writing. 

    I’m going to let her out now and she may be angry.   I hope her picture comes out okay.  

    Reply
    • Themagicviolinist

       I’m glad you were able to get your story to post. This was so much fun to read! (And I bet it was fun to write, too, although I think you may have some more trouble with your Inner Editor if she sees this 😉 ). This had to be one of my favorites.

    • mariannehvest

      Thank you so much. It was great fun to write.  I know she’s going to be mad so I’m just keeping her under the paperweight for awhile. Then I’ll write something really awful, just to distract her you understand, and bring her out to help me.  That should work.  Thanks again MV.  It was great fun and I think may be one of the most helpful exercises we’ve had.  

    • Themagicviolinist

      You’re welcome! I’m having so much fun. 😀

    • Juliana Austen

      I love the idea of her under the paperweight – face down – way to go!

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks Juliana

  31. Kate Hewson

    That was quite liberating, TMV, thank you! I had a hard job quieting my editor though. She didn’t stay where I shut her in!! I had this image of running away from her, and this is what happened:

    Lilian ran out of the door and down the lane as fast as she
    could with the wind at her heels. Through the gate at the end of the lane, and
    up the hill right to the top, breathing hard, pains in her chest and her legs,
    not stopping til she reached the summit and leaning against the tree that stood
    there.

    She took deep, calming breaths with her eyes closed, and
    once it had all returned to normal, she opened her eyes once more and looked
    out across the town below. The light was fading and the sky was pearly grey.
    The town was all in dark shapes and shadows, with the occasional twinkling
    lights.

    Was her love still down there, waiting for her, wondering
    where she was? Would he still be there, on the bench on the square, cap in
    hand, searching the streets with worried eyes? Or would he have given up by now
    and gone home? Or maybe to the Inn to drown his sorrows?

    She had wanted to meet him as planned, she had tried to
    leave, but her father wouldn’t let her.

    “He’s no good for you,” he had told her, for the hundredth
    time, “You’ve no business setting up with the likes of him. Anyway, you are
    needed here. You know I can’t manage your mother on my own.”

    And then her mother had one of her ‘do’s, screaming and
    screaming at who knew what, clawing her face with her fingernails and
    pulling out clumps of hair, and it took so long this time to calm her down.

    After what seemed like hours, they had finally managed to
    get her to take her sedative, and Lillian had sung her mother to sleep, and her
    father had settled in his chair, slowly losing himself in his whiskey glass.

    She was too late now, she knew. He wouldn’t still be waiting
    after all this time.

     Lillian went back to
    the house and fetched her coat. She might as well walk into the town anyway. Her
    parents wouldn’t need her anymore tonight.

    Reply
    • Themagicviolinist

       Very good use of the third person. I sometimes have trouble reaching into my characters’ thoughts if I don’t use first person. I enjoyed it. 🙂

    • Kate Hewson

      Thanks, MV!!

  32. Karl Tobar

     Hehe!  This exercise is pure genius.  It’s so much easier to let go when you know your inner editor can’t bother you.  Love, love, love thewritepractice.com!

    Reply
  33. AnthonyDejolde

    Awesome writing! Enjoyed it tremendously. I took away a great lesson too. Thanks for sharing, The Magic Violinist.

    Reply
    • themagicviolinist

      No problem! 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • AnthonyDejolde

      I did! I’ll be alert on your future posts. Keep it up!

  34. James Hall

    My inner editor looks like Beethoven. He is like a mad genius, or at least that is what he thinks he is. He points out some pretty useful stuff at times, but he tells me to throw away good stuff all the time, too. I think I’m going to name him Ludwig. Hey Ludwig, shut up I’m trying to write!

    Her lifeless limbs bounced as Dayo dragged down the corridor. He’d been walking for hours, his sore legs and blistered feet couldn’t carry him any further. Leaning over he carefully propped Cheryl against the wall. Rough and rocky, he found the smoothest place to lean her nodding head. He collapsed in exhaustion.

    He wasn’t worried that he might never find his way out of this maze. He had no fear of what might be around the next corner, for good or ill. He had only one concern, only one fear. Would her eyes, those kind and gentle eyes he had come to understand, to feel bearing into on his soul each time he closed his eyes… Would those loving eyes ever open again?

    “I don’t know what to do, Cheryl. I don’t know if I will ever make it out of here. I’m going to die down here.” Dayo crawled beside her. “If I die, I want to be close to you.” He held her cold hand in his. He massaged the top of her clammy hand with his own. “I’m sorry, Cheryl, I got you involved on this journey. I’m a coward, Cheryl. When it comes to you, I’m a coward. This world is cruel. Everyone I’ve loved has died. I thought…” He sigh was deep and painful. “I thought if I never told you, you wouldn’t die. I’ve loved you all this time. Please, Cheryl, come back to me.” He held her tight, sobbing into her cold neck.

    “I can’t go on, Cheryl. I know you wouldn’t approve, but I’ve little food, no water. I shall sit here until death comes for me.” He pulled her head into his lap.

    The corridor was still, nothing stirred. No rats, no creatures. Emptiness. Except where Dayo slept, crouched against a wall. Cheryl laid out beside him, with her expressionless face in his lap.

    Reply
    • themagicviolinist

      A lot of the times our inner editors think they’re mad geniuses. I’m pretty sure mine is just mad. 😉

      This was very emotional. It reminded me of “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner. One thing I would suggest is to not say Cheryl’s name so many times in the dialogue. It makes it feel like you think the readers won’t remember her name. Otherwise, great job! 😀

    • James Hall

      I agree, the repeated the name is a little annoying. For some reason, I was under the impression that it added to the dramatic effective, but it really doesn’t.

      Never read Maze Runner. Seems a little similar to the Hunger Games.

      I’m more into fantasy and upbeat stuff. Stories that highlight the way people should be, not the bad things they are capable of.

      Thanks for reading. Thanks for suggestions.

  35. Grey Gregory

    LOL this is awesome! I have got to try this!

    Reply

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