February 7, 2012

Starting Tactics

Nathan Bransford blogged yesterday about How to Return to Writing After a Long Break. He discusses some great advice, including "Know that your first day back will not be productive" and "Badger yourself into opening up your novel and getting started again even if it feels like you are peeling off your own skin."

I was thinking about how most of this advice is applicable even when the break from writing has only been as long as a couple of days, or the hours since the night before. I usually find it really hard to get started on a writing session. I might be absolutely convinced that I never want to write another word in my life, right up until I wring out a sentence and think, "Oh, that's not so bad. It's even kind of fun."

Recently I've had a lot of productivity success (where "productivity" means "time-consuming systems for tricking ourselves into making better use of our time") by telling myself, "The next few hours are only for focusing on the novel, but as long as you don't think about anything else, you don't even have to write anything." When I'm intimidated by what I have to write next, it's comforting to know that I can just sit there for a few hours trying to figure it out. Inevitably, before too long I'll start writing, because for one thing, it's kind of boring to sit for hours not doing anything, and for another thing, thinking has a tendency to lead to ideas.

As Nathan says in his post, and as I've written about previously, the going is always slower at the beginning. But by the end of any writing session that I determined might not result in any actual writing, I always have plenty of words to show for myself.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Eleanor Brown posts at Beyond the Margins about Exposing the Dark Questions: "There were scenes in the book that made me cry as I wrote them, because writing them forced me to call upon emotions that I had, for a long time, tried to bury. I hadn't set out to write those scenes, hadn't set out to walk among those ruins, but there they were, and I could see that, painful as the process was, it was also catharsis." Today is the paperback release of Eleanor's THE WEIRD SISTERS, which I enjoyed a year ago.


mamagotcha said...

I've been pondering trying to figure out a way to set up a regular writing time again. Thanks for the timely kick in the rear!

Lisa Eckstein said...

I've been discovering that having a bigger chunk of time is more valuable than having many smaller chunks of time. So if you can make it work, I recommend trying to carve out, say, two hours once a week rather than planning to write a little bit every day. Good luck, and I hope you can find the time to get back to writing!

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