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Changing Hats to Match Your Mindset

Elaine Bateman

What hat do you wear to start your working day?

No, I’m not asking about your workwear fashion choices; this is about mindset. It’s about being in the moment and training yourself to focus on the right things at the right time.

It’s well documented that the writing brain and the editing brain do not work well together. 

You don’t want those two fighting for headspace when you’re trying to work.

Using the concept of changing hats (literally or figuratively) can change your perspective and keep your focus where it needs to be.


When you’re wearing your writer hat, flaunt your gorgeous french chapeau. It’s a given that all writers view their manuscript like Gollum views his precious ring, with equal parts love and despair. It is a work in progress. Creativity flows from your mind, through your fingers and onto the page.


As an editor, the flow is reversed. Put on your miner’s hat, flip on the light, and take a look at your pile of dirt. There’s gold in them thar hills and it’s your job to dig it out. Kill your darlings; those pesky adverbs that you lovingly added just days ago.


Okay, Jack, we know you loved the cow, but you need those magic beans. Now it’s time to look at that manuscript with your business hat. Pull that bowler hat on tight, because if you thought the last two hats hurt your head, you’re in for a bumpy ride. When you wear the business hat, you’re thinking about keeping a roof over your head, food in your mouth, and a Tesla in the garage. That manuscript is no longer your precious ring, and the dirt is gone. It’s a product, a commodity, and it’s your job to make others want it. 

But how do you stop those hats from smooshing together?

Stay on track. Wear one hat at a time. Keep a notepad close-by while you’re writing. When business thoughts threaten to pull you from the writing flow, jot them down, and return to the work you need to focus on. Is it easy? Not always. 

But if you can manage it, I doff my cap to you.

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