Overcoming the Correction Trap


When we’re in a creative endeavor it’s easy for us to get caught in the correction trap. We’re creating something and suddenly, the left side of our brain engages, overwhelms the more creative right side and we’re analyzing instead of crafting. We’re trying for perfection instead of letting our imagination flow.

I love what Julia Cameron wrote about this:

“The perfectionist fixes one line of a poem over and over—until no lines are right. The perfectionist redraws the chin line on a portrait until the paper tears. writes so many versions of scene one that she never gets to the rest of the play. The perfectionist writes, paints, creates with one eye on her audience. Instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the results. For the perfectionist, there are no first drafts, rough sketches, warm-up exercises. Every draft is meant to be final, set in stone. Midway through a project, the perfectionist decides to read it all over, outline it, see where it’s going. And where is it going? Nowhere, very fast.”[1]

The perfectionist in Ms. Cameron’s text is a person who is letting the left side of the brain take over the creative process. They are caught in the correction trap and that’s not good for the writer or the eventual reader.

I’m not saying there should not be editing and rewriting and correction. What I am saying is there’s a time for that left-brain activity, but not when a piece is being created. There’s plenty of time for correction and the trap is always ready to spring.

So, how do we avoid the correction trap? Here’s what many writers including myself, do:

  • Set aside time for both creative writing and for correction. They are separate times in the process. Will ideas come when you’re correcting? Absolutely. Take note of them; write them down—whatever it takes to capture them. But, I’d advise not to correct while your creating.
  • Put yourself in a position to create and write from the right side of your brain. Personally that means an environment that helps me get to and remain on the right side. I put on “writing” music. I light candles. It means I have to consciously corral the left side analytical thinker.
  • Lastly, do whatever you need to do so that you can be innovate, open and imaginative. This may mean turning off your phone or closing email. It may mean taking a long walk—whatever is necessary for you to remain in the creation and brainstorming mode rather than correction and analysis.

Writers have a unique ability to take random “data” and put it into words that inspire and teach. Remarkable writers do it in unique and different ways because they are able to avoid the correction trap and fully create something exceptional. Do they rewrite and edit? Yes they do, but after they have spent time creating.


[1] Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, (New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc., 2002), e-Book edition


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