"What are you thinking? I'm positive you already discussed the fact that fish made him gag!"
"Your writing stinks."
Oh, the lovely voice of our inner critic! Over-bearing, exaggerating your faults, making you feel like you shouldn't be holding a pen at all. Why are we talking about this particular character? Because I want you to banish your inner critic from your head.
Yes, you heard that right. Banish 'em. Just push them away--and don't listen to them. Ok, not forever. Let's just say that right now. A well behaved inner critic can be a valuable asset in the cycle of editing. (But you still have to keep that critic's mouth free from too much negativity!) But when you're writing, the inner critic has no business poking its head in on things. Especially during NaNoWriMo.
Here's some reasons why you should get rid of your inner critic completely during your 1st draft.
- You will be able to write better. How can you write better if you're turning out a really messy 1st draft? Because 1st drafts are NOT about polish and perfection. 1st drafts are about getting the idea out there. Letting your story just come naturally. Putting it on paper--capturing the story. It's definitely not going to be some award winning manuscript after the 1st draft--that's why we have the revision and editing stages. But if you try to smush revising and editing along with writing when doing your first draft, the words will drag, you can lose some of the best parts of the book, and it could take you forever to finish. The 1st draft, focus on TELLING the story--not styling it.
- It will help you stay more motivated to finish the 1st draft. Have you ever tried writing something with someone looking over your shoulder constantly trying to correct you, point out where you're going wrong, or change things? That's what it's like writing with an inner critic. Before long helpful editing changes you might think were great turn into beating yourself up because you're not "good enough". You can get swamped in all the stuff you have to fix that the details overshadow the story and you start feeling like you'll never get there. Not fun.
- In the long run, it turns out better books. Because if you write the 1st draft without an inner critic, let it sit for a week or two (or more) and then return to it with your handy-dandy red pen, you're going to be able to look at it without the fog of writing still hanging over you. You'll come to it fresher and with an open perspective, and you'll be able to catch mistakes much easier. Not only that, but you'll be able to see all the good points of your book that much better too! This provides for a more even, fair evaluation of your book, better revising and editing, and so therefore...a better story.
So what if you're a writer who can't bear to leave a mistake? What then? That's what sites like Write or Die or The Most Dangerous Writing App or the Hemingway mode on Draftin.com are for. How do these work?
Write or Die: There is a premium (paid) version of this with lots of different settings that you can tinker with, but I'm going to focus on the free version. You can adjust by time or word count, then pick out of three different types of "Modes". Stimulus mode plays nice background ambiance as you type, but if you stop the page gradually darkens from white to red and the sound stops--prompting you to get back to writing. Stimulus mode is a gentler way of keeping you typing. Consequence mode is similar, only you don't have the background ambiance, and when you screen turns red, an alarm goes off until you start typing again. Kamikaze mode is the one with the most at stake--when you stop typing not only does the screen turn red but slowly letters start disappearing from what you've already typed--and continue to disappear until you start typing again, though the missing letters won't come back!
The Most Dangerous Writing App: This site is way more intense! You don't just lose a couple letters little by little with this one--if you stop writing for more than a few seconds the entire portion of what you wrote is completely deleted. Ouch! Don't stop typing!
Draft: This is actually a place where you can save documents as well, but I'm going to focus on writing in the Hemingway mode. There is no dangerous deleting of your words with this one...the only thing is once you start writing in the Hemingway mode the backspace bar...aka delete... is no longer functional until you finish.
Not only do these apps/sites let you get rid of your inner critic as you write, you're forced to focus as well. ;)
Well that's all for now! Have a lovely day,