We all know that moment, we are typing merrily away, words tumbling from our fingers and flying on to the page, then it happens.Read the whole thing. Darn it, Andy, quit reading the thoughts scrawled on the inside of my forehead! Seriously, though, anyone who doesn't struggle with an internal editor is either really into stream of consciousness or not writing much at all. And if you're the tiniest bit like me (a pathological perfectionist who wants everything to come out neatly and in order from the get-go), getting stuck on a single word can feel like plowing into a brick wall at warp factor nine. To get confessional, it's already happened to me once while writing this rather short blog post. But rather than go wash my hands a dozen times or count all the paperclips in my desk drawers, I'm taking a deep breath and giving Shack's suggestions a try. You know what? They may be working, because somehow against hope I've managed to reach the end.
Maybe it is a word, not quite right, too long, too simple, too obscure. You don't know what exactly is wrong. However, its wrong and it's wrong on your page. ...
Time and time again I see the same sage advice telling us that when we are in full creative flow we should ignore spelling, grammar, style errors and instead concentrate on getting the story down, to let the words pour out of us. That the time to correct these things is later, not now. To do it when the fantastic creative rush is over, to correct when we are wearing a different hat, the hat of an editor.
Can I follow that advice? When I see red squiggles two lines up or maybe "the the" just above my cursor, can I leave them alone? What about the worse situation when the current word is just plain wrong, do I plough on and leave it alone? And what should I do when a plot hole opens up beneath my character, making nonsense of my entire scene?
Can I follow that advice? No I can't.
(Picture: CC 2007 by Trebor Scholz' Photos; Hat Tip: How Publishing Really Works)