Writing and Editing: Every Writer has Two Hats

** Credit at End **

Writing used to be so easy for me.

I used to get an idea and go for it. I wrote what I felt, whatever I thought should happen next. Not a care in the world.

Then….. I started to learn craft.

Learning craft killed a certain aspect of my writing for a while. Suddenly, all I could see were my mistakes. My character’s motivation isn’t strong enough. I started several sentences in the same paragraph with “He.” In a row! I’m using the same sentence structure over and over and over. My tenses don’t match!

But then I learned something critical that saved me so much frustration. It’s the concept that we as writers wear two hats.

Writing Hat #1: The Creator

When we first started to write, we wore only our creative hat. We wrote with reckless abandon and fell in love with story. We were more interested in the emotion, the message, the heart of story than we were with syntax. Which leads us to Hat #2…

Writing Hat #2: The Editor

Then we started learning. We went to writer’s conferences, had conversations with other writers, and read writing craft books. That’s how we realized the danger of using way too many adverbs. We were introduced to the black moment that happens at the crucial moment before the climax–the dark before the dawn. We learned so many things about grammar, syntax, plot, structure, tension, and characterization that we were energized!

. . . . Did I say energized? I meant freaking out.

Because if you’re like me, the moment you learned craft, you wanted to implement it in your work. Your eyes were opened to your pitfalls as a writer, and they couldn’t be closed again. But fear not. You can use these two hats together, and here is my suggestion how:

How to Use the Two Hats Together

When routing my book/planning my outline (Yes, folks. I’m a hard-core plotter.), I suggest using your editor hat. Then you’re looking for the key ingredients that create an exciting story. Plot twists. Ultimate Black Moments. Dynamic characters. But then when you actually write your first draft, put on your creative hat instead.

The problem for me exists when I try to wear my editor hat while trying to be creative. When I’m in the emotional jungle of the story, I don’t need to think about how each of my sentences starts with “He.” I need to think about emotion. Heart. Theme. Message. The editor hat, when donned too early, has the ability to squash creativity.

“The editor hat, when donned too early, has the ability to squash  creativity.” — Janette Foreman www.JanetteForeman.com

Once I move on to the second draft (and third, fourth, fifth…) I wear my editor hat.  Then I already have the creative structure settled, like the bare bones of a house. All I have to do is wear my editor’s hat and decorate. Use the perfect paint, the right décor, and create the masterpiece I’ve been carrying in my heart.

So if you’re creating, send your editor on vacation! And vise-versa.


How about you? Do you struggle with separating the creator from the editor?

** Photo credit: https://happythought.co.uk/product/how-to-make-a-mini-top-hat

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