Writing and connecting to your creativity can be hard enough without further complicating it. Judging from the social media posts I see, many authors unknowingly do this when they’re writing.
I’ve been guilty of this too. Maybe you’re making the same mistake.
So, what is that fatal error that can kill your creative flow faster than anything?
It’s editing while you’re writing.
It’s really easy to do without realising it, especially if you use Microsoft Word, the publishing industry standard for manuscripts.
Here’s the Problem
Writing is a right-brained activity. That’s where your creativity and imagination are found.
Editing is a left-brained activity. That’s where your logic and reason live.
Editing while you’re writing creates a push/pull effect where you’re switching back and forth between your right-brain and your left-brain.
It interrupts your creative flow, slowing down the process and stopping ideas from unfolding.
So, what does editing while you’re writing look like? It’s little things like:
- Checking or fixing spelling errors as you write.
- Verifying or sourcing information.
- Using a thesaurus to find the right word.
These are things I still catch myself doing from time to time.
There are a few methods I’ve discovered that have helped me avoid editing while writing to stay in my creative flow.
The first is to turn off spell check in Microsoft Word or whatever program you’re using to write. Seeing that red underline is an irritant. You can’t help but go and fix it.
Turning off spell check in Word is simple.
- Click on the ‘Review’ tab in the top menu (it’s usually between Mailings and Review).
- Click the drop-down arrow under ‘Language’ and select ‘Language Preferences’.
- Click on ‘Proofing’ in the menu on the left. Find the box that says ‘Check spelling as you type’ and ensure it’s unticked.
I also close any other editing programs that might open, such as Grammarly.
Alternatively, you could use a writing program such as Scrivener, where you can hide the formatting features.
The second is to use the highlight tool. When I need to find a better word or source some information, I highlight it using the ‘Text Highlight Colour’ function in Word.
You’ll find this feature in the Font menu. It’s the button that says ab above a paintbrush/pen with a yellow line underneath.
The third is to avoid reading over previous pages/chapters I’ve written while I’m writing. I do this before and at the end of my writing time.
It’s a good reminder of where you’re up to and what needs to come next.
Do you have any ways you stop yourself from editing or getting out of the creative flow? If so, share them below.
Cheers to your writing success!