Fear and Editing: My Magic Trick for Getting to the Page
Many writers talk about the need to silence our inner editors while writing. I also have critical inner voices I need to silence while editing: voices of doubt and fear telling me that even with my best efforts, the piece will still be awful. My self-doubt threatens my ability to just sit down and do the work. Making myself come to the page in the face of those inner voices can be challenging. I have some standard productivity tools that I use to get my butt in the chair, but I also have a magic trick.
The Magic Trick
I edit in purple pen.
I can edit with any pen, but when I am resisting, I turn to my trusted purple pen.
Purple is playful and creative in my mind. One of my favourite books as a child was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Harold draws himself into and out of adventures by using his purple crayon to create first a challenge and then a solution. Purple lines lead to interesting places in my imagination.
When I think of purple and creativity, I think of Jenny Joseph′s poem Warning. The opening line ″When I am an old woman I shall wear purple″ has always resonated with me. When I was 12 or 13, I realized I was in training to be an eccentric old woman. And, although I silenced many of my more creative impulses to fit in better at school, there was always a part of me that thought, in exactly the way Jenny Joseph described:
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Editing in purple taps into my sense of playfulness even in the face of hard work to be done. And, my sense of ″who cares what ′they′ think, this is what is right for me″ flourishes. Even when I kill my darling words, if I do it in purple, it feels creative not murderous.
I wouldn’t dare suggest that this would work for everyone, but I doubt I’m the only one who needs a nudge into the editor’s chair from time to time. What tricks/tools do you use?