Two very simple tips today, for writers who have problems going back to the page the next morning, and for general productivity.
Leaving it Undone
“Stop writing each day when you know where you’re heading next. This could be in the middle of a sentence, paragraph, chapter, wherever…but pick a place that you can sit down the next day and start right back up. It helps to alleviate writer’s block and not knowing what to do next”. – Rachele Alpine
We are not alone in the fear of the blank page, of getting started.
Ernest Hemingway was asked about the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, and said, “A blank sheet of paper.”
Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start [writing]. After that, things can only get better.“
I feel the same about a new chapter or scene. Even when I know exactly what the scene needs to accomplish, even when it’s a scene that I’ve been waiting to get to for a long time, when faced with that blank document and blinking cursor, those first words don’t come so readily.
But if I have work to get on with – the last few paragraphs of the scene before (which I left off the night before) – then writing becomes much easier. I rush to read through the bit of writing I left off, write speedily to get it out of the way, finished, and without a pause, speed into that next scene calling for me.
“Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue”. – Helen Dunmore
Next Action is a concept from David Allen‘s ‘Getting it Done‘. Whenever you stop working on something, you always need to know what the next action should be. The book suggests you write up the next action (onto a next action list or a sticky-note) and tag the thing with this ‘next action’. It recommends that all the next actions be sorted into context lists, but for the sake of your one manuscript, and leaving it undone until next time, this shouldn’t be necessary.
BUT as a key to your entire productivity, Next Action is elemental –
“A project can sit on our to-do list for a long time without getting done. David Allen points out that that’s because you can’t DO a project — you can only do a physical action”. –Leo Babauta, Zen Habits.
Productive Life: For all those projects and to-do’s on your writing (and life) lists, go through each of them and write down the next action for them. Then do it.
Current Writing Project: When leaving your draft/scene/chapter undone, make sure you quickly jot down what your next action will be on it, when you pick it up the next day. Don’t leave it much longer than that, or you’ll lose the flow.
This blog post participated in April 2013’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge, along with many other blogs on subjects as diverse as writing, foodie blogs or mummy blogs.
This blog post is part of a themed series or pack on Writer’s Core Habits. I acronym this as WCH or WCHP © . Do a search for these tags, and you will find more in the series.
No affiliate links are used in these posts.