It’s day 4 and time to talk about free writing and how we get hung up way too often in the editing process.
I decided to leave out early this morning and park myself at my high school, which is about a minute from my house. It was probably as far as I was going to get at 4 a.m. Actually, I chose to come to my high school this morning for a very specific reason. Today, we are talking about editing, and the roadblocks it creates for writers.
I have always been a writer. I wrote essays in grade schools, news articles and research papers in college, social media posts and ad copy when I worked for small businesses and now I write blog posts. Writing is in my DNA, but the academic system I grew up in hindered my ability to create and enjoy the process with the emphasis on editing.
Don’t get me wrong. Editing is extremely important, and I appreciate criticism from the process so I can become a better writer. As a creative, though, I am learning to write first, edit later. You will notice I don’t edit any of these My 500 Words posts. The reason is so I can concentrate on writing and not on the end process. I want to be raw and uncut.
So back to my high school and why I am here this morning. I remember getting harsh and honest criticism on my writing as early as elementary school but it wasn’t personal until I got to high school. I had always been blessed with english teachers who wanted to help me get ahead, but I got a rude awakening when I got to my junior year and my first college-level English course. My teacher wasn’t a big fan of mine, and my writing took the brunt of her feelings a lot of times. My standardized writing exams and all of my other teachers credited me for a gift with words, but what stood out was her continual disdain for anything I wrote. I let her criticism, even though I knew it was biased, to cut me far deeper than it should have. It took me until I got to college and excelled at journalistic writing before I buried the emotional editing from high school.
In college, I got far more brutal edits. I had to learn a whole new language in journalistic writing and AP style. But because of this high school – that one English teacher – I knew how to accept criticism when it was designed to challenge me into better writing.
Chances are – you aren’t a writer. That’s okay. If you are ever criticized in anything you do, this concept applies to you.
Make it a rule to sift through criticism and the emotions it arouses within you. Don’t let people stay rent-free in your head unless they are worth it. Another words, don’t allow people with ill intentions to tear you down.
Writing without editing is difficult for a writer, but it’s also liberating. It gives us an opportunity to just be creative and let it flow. I am thankful for that aspect of this challenge.
If you are a writer or want to explore a passion for writing, you can join in on the free My 500 Words challenge with Jeff Goins.
Find my previous challenge posts below: