It’s Monday again, and my window is filled with gray light and the too-soothing sounds of rainfall. This is the kind of day that is the enemy of productive thinking, and I’m sitting at my desk struggling to focus on pushing forward to reach the daily goal I set for myself of 1000 words (whether they be good, bad, or ugly.) The word-goal, which I took on after reading something one of my favorite authors, Patrick Ness, wrote about his schedule, has been a help to me since I started writing full time, and shows me see that even on days that are all white noise and white sky, I can still get something done.
It’s hard, though.
So in honor of that fact, and the rainfall, and the general, dreary Monday-ness of this day, I pulled out an old blog post from when I was blogging about business writing years ago. Apparently, I was in a cheerier frame of mind that day, or at least a more energetic one, and was capable of giving energetic advice. So here it is, and I’m just going to hope it helps me jump-start my week:
When the writing gets tough, the tough do laundry. Or wash the dishes. Or search for chocolate. Or talk on the phone. Or just get up and leave, and pretend there are errands to do. Okay, maybe all this is just me, but everyone has a technique for writing avoidance. So – with all those wonderful avenues for getting out of writing, how do you get into it when that blank page just looms?
A few ideas:
Write a letter. Letters often free you from the worry that you’ve got to say things in a specific way. Pretend you’re writing to a friend. Think about that bottom line – the overall point of what you wanted to say – and then just start a chatty letter. Eventually, you’ll get there. When you do, you can pull out the good parts, polish them to a high sheen, and have the beginning of a real document.
If you’re in the middle of a project, and it’s stalling, go and read from the beginning – out loud. Sometimes, hearing your own words out there in the air will trigger the next thought.
Make notes. Don’t worry about language or how the words sound. Think about the ideas. Sometimes one idea leads to the next, and those lead to the words.
Think geometry. A well-constructed piece of writing has a shape. It has a beginning, usually followed by a section that provides background, then a bloated middle section that provides the bulk of your information, then a shorter climax section, where you offer your reader that crucial piece of information that makes it all fall into place. Then you’ve got your ending. Imagine those pieces in a visual way, and try to fit your notes into the right chunk. Sometimes visual thinking triggers word-thought.
Do more research. Sometimes you can’t think what to say because you don’t have the information you need to say it. If you keep drawing a blank, go looking for something to fill it.
That was my long-ago advice. Hope it helps you as much as it did me. Now I’m going to make some notes, despite the rain.