Midway through the Advent season of waiting, I’m still waiting to send cards, get a tree, sew the doll clothes, and figure out a gift or two. I’m also waiting to finish the story of Hildegard that I have struggled off and on with for eight years.
My inner critic slows down the story and prevents the free flow of words. “You could think of a better word choice.” “Does this story even have a plot?” “You’re telling, not showing.” “This character is too shallow.” Why aren’t you using all the senses?” The voice asking these questions stops me cold. I begin to address the immediate problem rather than move the story forward. My inner critic keeps me from producing the volume of words that I need to discover the story.
YA author Norma Fox Mazer sometimes typed with a hat pulled down over her eyes. She may have been putting herself in her characters’ world, shutting out distractions or both. This week I discovered a technique that quiets my inner critic and allows me to pound out the first draft without thinking too much. I extend my laptop screen all the way back and cover it with paper. So simple! When I worked with a desk monitor, it never occurred to me to drape a cloth over the screen.
By covering the screen, I can’t focus on the words. My eyes see story images instead. No more waiting for an inner critic to approve a first draft. Later, she can help me craft and polish the words.