Posted in Writing

Self Editing

I’m working on a personal piece of writing this week, but the go is slow. There’s a dark scowling editor hovering over my shoulder making all kinds of judgements. Every time I get a few sentences down, he rolls his eyes. I’ve hardly got a full page done.

“Don’t tell that,” he hisses. “Don’t even hint or wink a knowing wink about it.”

I delete my words and try again.

“Stop! You can’t tell people about that!”

I try again.

“Put a smile on your face and play nice,” he warns, tapping the delete button for me.

I know better than to listen to my inner naysayers during a creative phase, but this guy has me completely blocked. He’s panicked. For me, or himself, and I can’t tell which.

His hands raise as I type my words now, just waiting for me to step out of his comfort zone. I tense against his criticism, and only let an edited version hit the page where he can see. The rest of the story is stuck in my shoulder area, sharp and brittle.

I keep typing anyway, but soon, something even more unsettling happens.

Those unsaid words begin to loosen up and drift piece-by-piece down my arm to my elbow. I type faster and feel a few of them gather dangerously close to my wrist.

If I don’t stop them soon, they will fly out of my fingers for everybody to see.


Windy Lynn Harris’s short stories and essays have been published in The Literary Review, Crack The Spine, 34th Parallel, and many other journals. She is the Publishing Tips editor at The Review Review, and a the founder of Market Coaching for Creative Writers. She has been offered a residency at The Dorland Mountain Arts Colony and The Maribar Colony. She is a 2015 recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts which is funded by the state of Arizona and The National Endowment on the Arts. She is working on her first book.

14 thoughts on “Self Editing

  1. I like the way you approached this. Well written. I did an article about this idea once, but yours is more descriptive and to the point. My was called, “Things your inner editor needs to hear you say.” You can search the title on my page if you like. Glad to hear about your recent success of having a story published, which reminds me I have one to go submit.


  2. This reminded me of Rita Ackerman’s little handmade face that sits on my desk. Known as the “Inner Critic,” it has a bright red zipper that invites me to “Just zip it.” I’ve been forgetting to do that, so thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is so soul-wrenching to expose ourselves on the page and probably why so many of us stick to fiction. It is freeing though, or so I hear, so keep at it.


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