When Your Inner Editor is Actually an Abuser

I did NaNoWriMo last November. National Novel Writing Month.
The goal is to write a novel, or 50 thousand words, during the month of November. There are pep talks, and group meetings, and forums, and a bunch of geeky people rallying around each other to help us all be creative.
There was a lot of advice going around in the early days of the month about shutting off your inner editor and letting the words flow uninhibited.
I wrote a note to my inner editor that I wouldn’t be needing her around, to take a vacation to somewhere sunny, but she kept coming back to the office on her vacation.
And she would say the nastiest things, that voice in my head. “You’re selfish. You’ll never be a writer. How dare you waste time writing! This is meaningless. you are meaningless, and you can’t possibly write 50k words in time. Idiot. It’s stupid and selfish to try.”
And I realized that much of the time, it wasn’t my inner editor holding back my creative side. It was actually my inner abuser. She sounded like all the people who have ever bullied me, denied my feelings, and made me feel like a miserable excuse for a person, making me doubt all my feelings, decisions, and actions – only she was less subtle about it. She wanted to keep me from trying to make friends or write books or doing anything at all.
From making a conscious decision to shut off negative self talk for a whole month, I realized that there was a huge difference between giving myself constructive criticism and emotionally abusing myself.
One makes me a better writer, the other seeks to make me nothing.
The one works with my creativity, the other mocks me and stifles creativity.
One functions as a little guide, telling me how to behave around people, reminding me of the signals for behavior, the other assures me I am hateful, awkward, and everyone is likely to hate me unless I stay quiet and pander to everyone when possible.
I had always thought the two voices were the same voice. Both the inner editor, almost like a conscience, keeping me in line, keeping my life in order, reminding me of myself – and how terrible I am. I was mentally cutting myself, believing the inner abuse — the emotional self punishment — was necessary to make me become a better person.
But in silencing both voices I realized how deconstructive part of the inner editor actually was.
I still think it’s a good idea to silence the inner editor when trying to write a first draft of a novel, or brainstorming solutions, or dreaming big. Then you can invite the inner editor back in to refine your ideas and words and make them beautiful.
But the inner abuser? Kick her butt out of your mind for good.
And keep kicking out those inner abuser thoughts whenever they comes in, until your brain has changed shape and the places where the inner abuser resides are shriveled, and her voice is weakened so much that instead of the tyrannical voice holding you back, she’s become a mockery at herself, and you can laugh at her.
“Me, cowardly and weak and lazy? Failure? I think not. you’re a riot!”
(and for the record: NaNoWriMo? I finished my 50k word count several days early. yesssss.)


2 thoughts on “When Your Inner Editor is Actually an Abuser

  1. Pingback: Six-Word Saturday Meme #18 | Allison's Book Bag

  2. Pingback: Yes, I’m Am | Lana Hobbs the Brave

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