How do you get a running start on your writing every day?
For those of us who must write in short increments (say about ten minutes), it’s important to be able to jump right in when you can snatch a moment. I’m certainly not the master of this—that would be Katharine, of course—but I do have a couple of quick tips.
Most of you have probably heard Ernest Hemingway’s advice on this subject—end your day’s writing in the middle of a sentence.
I’ve tried that, but the annoying OCD chick inside me just can’t stand the thought of that half-completed sentence and that [gasp] missing punctuation mark. Alas, there are still some tricks for the rest of us.
End your day’s writing in the middle of a scene. If you can’t end mid-sentence, try ending mid-scene. You know where the scene is going to go, and you know how you’re going to get there. So if you get to the middle of that scene, you should be able to finish it up and slide right into the next one pretty seamlessly.
Make a quick list of what needs to happen in the scene. Before I start any scene, I make a quick list of what needs to happen. That way, if I get stuck, I can check my list. There might be snippets of dialog or even “stage directions” on there. I keep the list right at the start of that scene. Being a lover of lists, I delight in deleting the things I’ve already accomplished. The extra bonus of this is that, when I end in the middle of the scene, the next day I can peruse that list quickly and remember what I was doing. Here’s a sample from my latest WIP.
1-B notices the car’s temporary plate. Considers implications.
2-B suggests R trust him. “Right. Because that worked so well for me last time.”
3-Get cradle from barn and clean it.
4-Make a grocery list, have B offer to go with her.
5-End with subtle threat: “Call Suzy tomorrow, or I will.”
As you can see, the list isn’t comprehensive, publishable, or even understandable to anybody but me. Consider it your scene cheat-sheet.
The use of that kind of list has revolutionized my writing.
Remember: It’s a first draft. Repeat after me: “If it stinks, I can fix it.” Say that three times, every day before you start writing. And then write. And when you start thinking, this is the worst drivel I’ve ever written, remind yourself again that you can fix it later, and get back to work. When I was working on my last book, putting every one of those first 40,000 words on the page felt like pulling a bone from the mouth of a hungry bulldog. The last 60,000 words flowed like water in a bubbling brook. However, when I read the completed manuscript, it was all pretty good—the parts that came easily were no better than the parts I’d had to fight for. So just write and worry about the results later.