Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Get Started Easily with Unfinished Work

(CC) by Wouter Kiel
I was talking to my advisor one day about some of my academic writing, and how my fiction writing habits were resulting in better academic papers. I mentioned the bit about getting started at the same time each day. He perked up. "It's also helpful to park downhill," he said.

Park downhill?

Parking downhill refers to leaving some part of your work unfinished. It's super-satisfying to finish a writing session by triumphantly capping off a scene or chapter. But the next morning, booting up and staring at "CHAPTER NINE" can be a stifling thought. It might stall you a few minutes, or it might keep you bouncing around the internet procrastinating for days.

Instead, what my advisor suggested was to leave one section unfinished. Leave with something you have a lot of momentum on, so that you can sit right back down the following day and pick up where you left of. Some writers I know even go as far as to leave off in the middle of a sentence!

Most of the time what I do is leave off in the middle of a scene (or, you know, the methods section of my dissertation) and jot myself a note or two directly into the document of where I'm going next. Then the next morning, when I'm still groggy, I can just connect the dots that I drew the day before...and by the time I've done that, I've got new momentum for the day.

What are your strategies for keeping your muse going from one day to the next?

This month I'm participating in the A-Z blog challenge. My theme is "writer hacks," or 26 shortcuts you can do as a writer to get the most out of writing and the journey toward and through publication. Find out more about it at, and hop around to read the other cool blogs that are part of the challenge!

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