I was talking to another writer the other day about the differences between writing on a computer versus long hand. We agreed how much easier it is to edit on the computer, but we couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not. We both found that computers make it difficult to stick with an ancient writing truth that I formulate as “Don’t edit till you’re finished writing because even if you’re not, you’ll be finished writing.”
Maybe it’s the underlined typos calling to me. Maybe it’s just too difficult to bear the small changes that cry out to me in the glaring screen light, as I read over what I’ve written. The moment my hand jumps from the keyboard to the mouse or pad; once I double click or tap; highlight and delete; I’m in edit mode and the writing magic is gone. The subtle connection to my muse is lost in the din of coarser judgments. There’s nothing left to do except edit what’s on the screen in hopes of finding a way back to the muse’s voice hidden in the weeds of the words.
Writing and editing are two different animals. They use different parts of the brain. When it comes to first drafts, they can’t co-exist.
Writing is a creative. Editing is critical thinking. It applies rules and practical judgments and is the nemesis of creativity. At birth (or is it conception?), any successful creative project needs to begin free from critical thinking. That is true for brainstorming sessions as well, whether it is for product development, marketing campaigns, advertising concepts, long or short-range strategies or your next presentation.
That is why coaches demand “Yes Only” zones when leading group creative sessions. Here no criticism is allowed, no one can demand you “be practical”. Any negativity is a no no and any critic, a persona non-gratis.
It’s amazing how difficult that can be for some people, especially in our culture of constant comparisons, competition and the need to be right. (Am I right or what?) It’s second nature to us and often has to be unlearned or at least tamed.
And, while being non-judgmental is hard to do in a group, for many people it is even harder to do on their own. Recognizing the voice of the critic in a crowd of people is easy. Recognizing and silencing the inner critic is a HUGE challenge. It takes practice or a coach.
Here’s an idea to help ensure your creative juices keep flowing.
Make your writing sessions “Mouse/Pad Free” zones. Open your document, click your cursor to the top of the page, then lock your track pad and or mouse in a drawer and leave it there. Then type away. It may seem odd at first but you’ll get used to it. You’ll also get to see your inner critic throw tantrums before finally settling down.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what going "Mouse/Pad-free" was like for you.