Saturday, March 27, 2010


I’m curious. Do you work with an internal editor? I ask because it’s a concept I’ve been aware of and fascinated by for a long time. For instance, during my years as journalism advisor for Coon Rapids High School’s newspaper, my students and I often held discussions about the extent to which they were self-editing. One such discussion I recall moderating was between the editor-in-chief and the music critic who intentionally pulled back a scathing review of a rock concert he believed was considerably less than the $125 ticket warranted. The reason? He feared the put-downs from his peers that his comments would provoke. Like the kids I, too, find myself aware of internal editors. The strongest one has the most critical voice: “You don’t know what you’re doing. That stinks. What right have you got to put that out for public viewing?” I can usually work through this one by sternly saying to it, “Shut up now!” But there’s a scarier voice that’s harder to silence. That's the voice that tells me I should paint only work that will sell. This would make sense except that when I heed this voice, the work that evolves is almost always trite and contrived. What works for me...the only time that editor is when I’m learning something new. And because that editor is silent, I let myself go. The result is almost always good -- maybe not technically perfect, but fresh and alive. “Oh!” someone says; “that’s great! You need to do more like that! They’ll sell for sure!” And of course, that’s when that nagging voice of the sales editor kicks in again. Now, I’ve read enough pop psychology to know the sources of these imaginary admonitions, but that knowledge isn’t enough to silence them. So I repeat my question: Whether you paint, write, cook, knit, carve...if you, like me, have an internal editor that gets in your way, how do you handle it? I’d love to hear from you.

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