Getting started again


A few days ago someone asked a pretty good question on my regular blog, and I thought I’d bring it over here to answer:

Do you find it difficult to stop writing your current work, and then pick it back up the next day? I mean I realize that a writer writes, and must write if they want to get paid, but is picking a story “back up” the next day something you had to learn? If so, I’d love to know how?

If I’m lucky enough to find it hard to stop writing, I usually don’t until I’ve achieved a phenomenal wordcount. Most of the time that doesn’t happen.

There are a bunch of tricks to picking a story back up. I know people who re-read the previous day’s work, doing edits and revisions before moving on to the new day’s work. I do a little of that, especially if it’s been a while since I’ve worked on something (I’ll usually re-read the whole thing, then). I also know people who will stop in the middle of a sentence so they’ve got something they know how to finish, which gets them writing right away. (That doesn’t work for me. I just forget what I was going to write!) I do like to stop when I know exactly what the next scene needs to do. That gives me a place to pick up. I’ll sometimes leave myself a note in the manuscript so I don’t forget what I think needs to happen. ‘ve talked previously about putting handles on the cups, which is very much a matter of trying to get started or pick up anew each day. I’m sure there are other things I’m not thinking of, too.

In a really ideal situation, the book I’m writing is so compelling that I basically can’t wait to get started writing every day, and so sitting down and getting started isn’t a task. That doesn’t happen very often, and it’s one of the reasons I took Solitaire *off* my writing computer: it’s usually much easier to start playing it than it is to start writing.

What are some other tricks to getting back to the keyboard? Anybody got other clever ideas?


6 comments to Getting started again

  • >>There are a bunch of tricks to picking a story back up. I know people who re-read the previous day’s work, doing edits and revisions before moving on to the new day’s work.

    First — Glad to have you back Catie!!!! We missed you!

    Now that I have the exclaimations out of the way, let me say that I do the above. Like you, I ususally can’t wait to get back into the story, but I’m not my best first thing in the morning. Anything I try to do before the morning tea hits my system is usually not my best work.

    Rather than try to work on the WIP, I force myself each morning to do what I refer to as *scut-work* (I think it comes from scuttle, as in coal skuttle?) As in the necessary but less fun stuff I do every day: online stuff and answering e-letters and such like. Then I reread and revise the previous day’s work before diving in to the day’s page count. But I nowhere near meet your word count! You are the queen of word count!

  • I’ve had to ban myself from facebook and email for a day or two. I tell myself only after I’ve written X scene will I be allowed back to those evil time sucking devices. Sometimes it works.

  • I agree with the previous poster; Facebook is not my friend.

    As for me…I bribe myself. I promise myself silence (not easily found in a house with two small children) and a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine while I write, and then once I complete my pages I get another treat (cookies or a hot bath, etc.)

    I’m not above taking bribes. Nope.

    Good post.

  • Ditto to what Faith said, Catie. We missed you.

    My grad school advisor recommended the stop-in-the-middle-of-the-sentence thing, but it doesn’t really work for me, either. It did when I was working on my dissertation, but fiction is a different beast. I try to stop on the cusp of something I’m eager to write, that I know will come easily, like a scene I’ve visualized a hundred times already. Sometimes, though, I stop the evening before at a place that proves to be a better stopping point than it is a starting point the following day. In those cases, it’s simply a matter of putting my butt in the chair and slogging through those first paragraphs.

    And for the record, I had to take solitaire and Spider off my machine as well.

  • I usually stop when my wife tells me it’s dinner time.

    Picking the story back up is usually easy for me becuase I am constantly thinking about the story and how it should/could/will go. That way when I sit back down to write, I already have an idea of where I am going next.

  • […] other day, about the difficulties of picking up writing the next day, and I thought it merited of a blog post of its own over at Magical […]