Life Lessons from an Author's Life (Managing Your Inner Editor)

Male Author typing on PC

Your inner editor. If you’re an author, you have one. It’s that annoying little voice in your head that edits your work while you’re writing, instead of having the decency to wait until you’ve finished. Don’t get me wrong, an inner editor has its rightful place in the writing process, but all too often it’s overactive, intrusive, and interrupts the natural flow of our writing. If you’re not an author, stay with me. You’ll see how this applies to your life.

To be productive, our inner editor must remain silent and wait its turn in the creative process. We must get our thoughts down on paper first, edit second. Instead, that little voice complains about our word choices, sentence structure, passive voice, wimpy verbs, and punctuation before we finish writing. It’s an internal critic that tells us our writing isn’t good enough or our book or article isn’t worthy. However, when released after the rough draft is complete, our inner editor has the potential to polish and perfect our piece—to transform it from poor to published.

This got me thinking about other areas of life where we’re self-critical. Maybe it’s our relationships, our job, our career advancement, our health, or our station in life. It’s easy to get caught in the comparison trap—or worse—feel trapped. That little voice in your head nags you about not achieving your goals or living up to your own expectations. How do you silence this critical inner editor until it’s ready to be released and help you rewrite a current chapter of your life?

I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I have learned to be content with what I have. I’ve noticed there’s a link between contentment and happiness. I’ve observed that people who have found pleasure in most things, including overwhelming things, start with faith and by finding the silver lining in everything.

Yesterday, my brother, Bob, introduced me to a video clip of a 30-year old woman competing on America’s Got Talent. When the judges asked her to share her story, she only reluctantly mentioned she had cancer. The song she was going to sing she wrote herself. It was titled, “It’s OK.” The lyrics addressed how we all feel a little lost sometimes, while the chorus was her response: “It’s OK.” And while her voice was astounding, her attitude is what moved me.

For me, it was not just what she sang, but what she said. She didn’t want to be defined by her circumstances. “I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me,” she confided. After she sang, the judges were stunned by her song, her situation, and her strength. In that moment of silence, she spoke: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” Her life is an illustration of contentment, in devastating circumstances. Backstage she revealed she has a two-percent chance of survival. “Two percent is not zero percent. Two percent is something,” she said.
It got me thinking about how, if she chose to, she could have complained about her raw deal. Instead, she allowed her attitude—and if you will, her inner editor—to edit her story—to rewrite the ending, from crisis to contentment.

As an author, I’ve learned we all have a story to tell, but what matters most, is how we choose to tell it.

In this woman’s case, she could have been a victim, she chose to be a victor. (See the powerful song link below.)



SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  How have you found contentment in your life’s most challenging moments? Let me know at I’d love to hear from you on this subject.


Nightbirde: Girl Fighting Cancer Sings Emotional Original Song, “It’s OK.”

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