The Writer’s Process and the Role of the CEO

I wear at least three different hats when I write: the Creative, the Critic and the CEO. Each one involves a different mindset and its own space to work.

The Creative requires freedom to play. She will make a big mess, lots of pages of total garbage, and a lot of creative gold, if given time and space to do her thing. She comes up with lots of ideas that end up going nowhere, but she also comes up with ideas out of that process which lead to books and blogs and interesting business ideas. The Creative is very much “in the Now,” and doesn’t so much plan as play.

The Critic takes all the mess the Creative has made and sorts it out. She says, “This is garbage; this is not. This could be really good, if…” The Critic edits and shapes the mess into something professionally acceptable and, hopefully, excellent. She’s also a bit short-sighted and digs into the nitty-gritty of what’s in front of her. She can, however, step outside of herself and say, “How does this feel to my target reader, not just to me?”

The CEO’s job is to manage the relationship between the two and the flow of the big picture. The CEO knows the budget of resources (time, energy, money) and the writer’s career trajectory. The CEO, if operating from a place of understanding the Creative and the Critic, knows that the two don’t always work well together. Given an understanding of the constraints, the CEO gives the Creative enough room to play, shushing the Critic’s desire to jump in and start editing now and waits until the Creative has had a chance to explore and play with the options and the content. When the timing is right, the CEO unleashes the Critic to do a mighty job of cleaning up. The CEO knows to separate the two processes because the Critic can easily shutdown the Creative and cut off the flow of content she needs for her maniacal editing. Everyone ends up unhappy when that happens.

How do you manage the relationship between these parts of your writing self? What tools do you have to quiet the Critic, free-up the Creative, and manage the process for your writing success? Where do you get hung-up in that management process?

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