Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Changing Hats

When this post publishes, my husband and I will be on our way to pick up our daughter at Brownie camp. She was only gone for two nights, but since she’s 7, we thought the short stay would prove a good introduction to resident camp. The idea was that she’d go there, love it, not be homesick at all, and then would want to graduate to a weeklong camp next summer.

As luck would have it (okay, it was careful planning), her two-night camp coincided with our son’s weeklong camp.

So my husband and I happily made arrangements to stay at a historic mountain inn in Highlands, North Carolina.

When we arrived at the inn, we were suddenly just us again—no children. Just like when we first married. The inn was picturesque and, when we checked in, we discovered that we were the only guests staying in the entire guest house. Our room had a balcony with rocking chairs. We had a bottle of wine, already chilled. We smiled.

Then my cell phone rang. “Mrs. Craig? It’s the camp nurse. No, no, she’s fine, really. Fine. Don’t worry. It’s just…well. Her braces? They fell out of her mouth during supper. What should I do?”

So…you got it. I’m now 100% thinking about my daughter. Was she upset the braces fell out? Is she okay? How did the darn things come out, anyway?

I immediately had my Mom hat back on. My husband looked completely horrified at the sudden manifestation of the Mom hat. But then I took it off. It was 7:00 p.m. She was three hours away from me. Really, there was nothing I could immediately do. So I made a list of what I should do tomorrow: email my daughter and tell her everything was fine and that—upside!—she now got to eat anything she wanted, and call the dentist and get them to reinstall the appliance as soon as she gets back from camp. For free.

I had to stop myself from wearing the Mom hat.

When I’m writing, I have to stop myself from wearing the editor hat. My tendency is to write for a few pages, stop, frown, and say, “This stinks.”

For me, editing as I go completely messes with my creative flow. I know some folks can write and edit simultaneously, but I’m not one of them.

Ways to get rid of the editor hat (until it’s time to edit):

Highlight the section of the page that’s bothering me so I can find it later.

Jot down ideas for changing the story’s path or the character’s personality. Maybe I don’t like the way John has behaved in the story up to that point. Change it for future text and then edit the previous problem during revisions. Make a note of where in the WIP I took the character or story on a new path.

Don’t read what I’ve already written.

At the end of a writing session, jot down a paragraph-long brief outline of where I want to pick up the next day and how I plan the scene to go. This eliminates the need to read previously-written text to see where I left off (and keeps me from picking it to death.)

Relax. Take a deep breath. Shut up my inner critic. Move on with writing.