I just posted a rambling, long-winded blog about my love/hate relationship with my internal editor/critic at SF Novelists, and I was thinking that I’d continue the conversation with myself over here. (This sentence reminds me of one of my current favorite lines by Spider-Man in Bendis’ New Avengers “Breakout” in which he says, “Man, my Spidey Sense is tingling so much I can hardly hear myself talk to myself.”)
I should be starting Tate’s newest Garnet Lacey novel, but I haven’t.
Normally, I allow myself a little bit of a hiatus between books to recharge. I do a little reading, TV and movie watching, and generally stare mindlessly at the passing clouds Calvin and Hobbes style. But, the deal has always been that once there’s a new contract, I get started.
This has often been a great delaying tactic since sometimes it takes a long time for this stuff to get hammered out. Oh, I’ll say, I can’t -- must wait, superstitions, you know. I’m not foolish enough to actually need to see the contract in hand (because THAT takes months), but to my mind there has to be a formal agreement between my editor and my agent before I’ll type word one.
Thing is, the deal’s already been struck. More than that, we negotiated a tighter deadline in exchange for a sweeter deal, so I know I need to get going on this one pronto.
So why haven’t I started? Every once and a while my internal editor gets switched up to high gear. I don’t know what triggers it. Sometimes it’s reading a really good book by another author. It can even be the opposite – reading something I consider sub-par by someone I think ought to know better. Sometimes it’s reading one too many reader’s comments on Amazon.com, or having a critical review sing my praises (or damn my faults).
Whatever causes it, what happens is that I find myself having trouble starting because I want every word to be professional from the get-go. I get seized by a preemptive stupidity strike – that is, I declare every idea I have to be dorky before I even think them.
Usually, I wait it out. I take a break from writing until my internal editor deflates back to its more reasonable size. I’ve never actually come up with a successful way to combat my internal editor/critic, other than ignoring the deadlined project for a week or so and writing something silly and fun. (Although lately, I’ve even been stymied in attempts to write complete fluff -- which may be, in fact, the root of my particular problem right now.) But, rather than delve deeper into my own psychosis, I’m curious. Does this ever happen to you and what do you do about it?