Let’s just get this out of the way.  I hear voices… in my head.  For some people who know me, this isn’t a massive shock.  For those who are afraid, stick with me a moment.  When I’m writing a book, and by that I mean that I’m working on the first draft, I hear (usually) one voice in my head.  That’s the voice of the main storyteller.  If I happen to be writing from third person or a dual first person, there might be a second voice, but typically there’s only one voice.

Pray for Dawn, Jocelynn Drake, urban fantasy, Dark DaysAnd it’s nice.  By the time I’m deep in a book, this voice is familiar.  I know the cadence.  I know the personality, the sense of humor, their favorite ice cream, and more.  It’s like always having a friend close at hand.  For the Dark Days series, I usually had Mira whispering sarcastic comments about this or that.  Occasionally Danaus would chime in when he was feeling talkative, which wasn’t often.  While I was working on the Asylum Tales, Gage was always there with a quip or a bit of wisdom.  For some reason, there were never any other voices talking to me for that series while I was writing the first drafts.

But there’s another one voice waiting in the wings.  Typically, she’s content to sit back, surf the web, watch a movie, play a video game, and take a bubble bath until I’m ready for her.  Unless I make one big mistake.  I call her in while I’m drafting.

Voices: The Creator and the Editor

Dead Man's Deal, Asylum TalesYou see, despite the varieties in personality, there  are only two voices.  The Creator and the Editor.  Mira, Danaus, and Gage are all variations of the Creator.  And then there’s the Editor.  She is the highly critical, logical, analytic half of my brain.  The Editor is the voice that tells — not whispers — how to change, tweak, and generally improve a story.  She’s my reality check.  She analyzes when I’ve repeated a word too many times, tells me whether a character’s motivations are off or if their emotional reactions are incorrect.

I value both sides and desperately need both sides, but there is one problem.  The two don’t always get along very well.  In fact, the Editor tends to stifle the Creator and it pisses off the Creator. So much so that the Creator will refuse to work on a project that the Editor get involved with it too soon. And I don’t blame her.  It’s not easy to work creative magic when you’ve got someone watching over your shoulder with a red pen in hand.

So, I have this rule.  The Editor is not allowed to get involved in the first draft.  And she’s fine with that rule.  To maintain the distance, I’m not allowed to reread anything I’m writing as I’m working on it.  When I start writing each day, I’m allowed to read up to one page of text that I wrote the previous day to get my mind back into the scene, emotional tension, and flow of the story, but that’s it.  If I read more, the Editor naturally flows forth and starts tweaking scenes.  And that just pisses off the Creator.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I’ve done with Stefan’s story.  I’m working on this spin-off story from the Dark Days series, focusing on what happened to nightwalker Stefan years after Burn the Night.  But I got stuck on the final fight scene/climax.  I know the “who” behind it all, but I haven’t worked out who does what in the final fight.  In my brainstorming process, I decided to go back and read to see if it would start sparking ideas.

And now all I can think about are the edits.  Ugh!

How do I quiet the voices arguing in my head so I can get back to writing?  It’s not an easy process.  If I’m not on a deadline, I will frequently go work on something else for a little while, allowing me to step away from the stress and frustration related to the first story.  If I’m on a deadline, I’ll do a timed writing session, which forces me to just write something, anything.  It gets me to accept a bunch of crap words so that I can finally get to the good words.

Now this doesn’t happen to everyone.  I know of authors who will edit the chapter that was written the day before prior to writing new text.  Some people are more skilled at separating the two voices in their brain.  For me, my rule  just makes the writing process faster and allows my creative side free rein.

And if you’re wondering, I’ve got about 10,000 to 15,000 words left of the Stefan story.  I don’t know quite what I’m going to do with it, but it is nearly done.  The voices aren’t arguing as much anymore and I’m hoping to finish the first draft soon.