Who’s Doing This Writing Anyway?

When I write, I’m using various ego states. The first ego state I use is that of the Free Child. My choice of words is direct and spontaneous. I may misspell words, use bad grammar, and forget punctuation. Various authors I’ve read who give advice on writing say, the first time through, “Just write, don’t edit.” To me, they are saying, “Use your free child.”

After your first pass through, then you may go back and use your Adult. This is where you find misspelled words, grammatical errors, and problems with punctuation. This is boring work and the free child doesn’t want to do it. This is where discipline comes in. You discipline yourself to go slowly and thoroughly through your work, finding places you can shorten it, say it better, or otherwise improve it.

The next pass is where you are very critical (the Critical Parent). The critical parent looks for things you did wrong, not what you did right. It may want you to throw out a story because there is one error. You may hear yourself say self-righteously, “It is not the number of errors, it’s the kind of error. This error indicates ignorance. I will not let you send this story out. Or, if you ever make that kind of an error again, I’ll never let you write another story.”

These are the three primary ego states I use when writing. When I get to the last one, I’m sure to have a reward for myself for having finished. The last one beats up on my Free Child and I need something to cheer him up.

I think some writers also write from an over Adapted Child ego state. Their writing is dull and not very entertaining, but they do everything right. Writing from the Parent ego state is ponderous.

Writing from an Adult ego state may produce good technical manuals and sometimes good fiction, like Doyle’s Holmes. But, unless there is some Free Child mixed in, it can get tedious. (Think about Holmes and his cocaine addiction.)

I think I’m nearly spot on in thinking these are the ego states I use. But, I’m certain they are not the ones used by everyone else.