I’m in Iowa City this week, sequestered at a bed & breakfast, doing a deep dive into writing my next novel. I write, I think, I walk, I write some more. All the while, I struggle with monkey brain. Monkey brain is the form my inner editor takes as it hoots and scratches and leaps around, yammering that the writing is No Good. Uninspired. Not Interesting.
I fight monkey brain all the time. Mostly by putting my head down, setting fingers on the keyboard, and reminding myself that it’s okay to just write. For today, just write one thing.
Today I received some unexpected help from author Kimberly Brock. For her, it’s not monkey brain. For her the inner editors are jackasses. She wrote an inspired post on the topic of jackasses, posted on Writers In The Storm, and I share it for your enjoyment.
The Jackass in My Head: Barnyard Lessons From a Rustic Writer’s Retreat
by Kimberly Brock
A few weeks ago I was heading to Cashiers, North Carolina for what was heralded as the answer to my recent writer’s weariness. I’d been driving for several hours, twisting up winding roads where the earth falls away into deep gullies and the air grows thin and the mountain walls weep.
I was dizzy with anticipation, and probably the higher altitude. For months, I’d been waiting and worrying about this retreat. I’d been invited to attend as a speaker, and I’d become convinced I was secretly meant to be the comic relief. The other authors on the panel were big names with long, illustrious careers. I had no idea how I’d gotten so lucky to be included amongst them, but I was already sweating through my new jacket.
Upon arrival, I dumped my luggage in a pile in my room and texted the event coordinator to let her know I’d found the joint, mostly so I couldn’t back out of the whole thing and hit the road with some sort of excuse – got kidnapped, bubonic plague.
I’d been battling my inner running dialogue all day, the one that reminds me of all my shortcomings, all the bad decisions, the bad grammar, the bad breath.
Some writers call this voice the Inner Editor. I call it my Inner Jackass. In my mind’s eye, this voice looks a lot like the Hee Haw logo, sporting goofy teeth, ready to take a bite out of me any chance he gets.
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Now I’m going back to my novel, encouraged to know I’m not alone with my monkey brain. We all have the inner editor – whether it takes the form of a jackass or a monkey. And sometimes they’re useful.
If you battle an inner demon on your writing, please share. And then go write something to put that jackass in its place.