Or: Valleys are harder to get out of than peaks.

The Challenge:

One of the biggest challenges in writing, as I’m sure you know, is facing that blank page. Especially first thing in a writing session when you’re feeling cold, tired, not yet plugged in. Maybe you’re still distracted or thinking about other things in your day. It happens!

I talked before about loosening up the mental writing muscles a bit by journaling as a way to start, AND, what happens next?

Sometimes we can fall into one of these two threat areas:

1) Staring at the screen or page and having nothing come up

2) Another is hopping into some endless loop of copyediting the prior days’ material.

Both of these don’t feel good, lead to “stuckness” instead of momentum, and make blocks instead of flow. Instead of only thinking about how we start in a case like this, let’s look back to how we end a day’s writing session for some help.


Look at How You End a Day’s Work

Often when I’m writing I can get into a flow: I know where a given scene is going, the sentences are coming easily, I’m going good. Somewhere along the line after, the scene has to end, the flow changes, maybe I find myself struggling to figure out where to go next.

THIS is NOT a good time to stop.

And sometimes that’s what people do: a scene ends, feels good, it’s a wrap. Done for the day!


I got over my word count and got to the end of a chapter. NO!

It’s so important to help yourself with the next day’s writing to be mindful about where you stop on a given day.


DO STOP when:

1) You’re in the flow

2) You know what’s going to happen next (a character’s next action, a response in an exchange of dialogue—something that’s obvious and clear enough to you that you know you’ll remember it overnight)

[In a pinch this can even be the next words in a sentence.]

And that’s it. If you get to the end of a “flow” before you get to your word count or time goal for the day, sit with it. Don’t leave. You’ll get the flow doing again, get a new scene started or similar, and then you can break later, when you’ve met the two criteria above AND

3) You’ve met your day’s minimum word goal or minimum time commitment.

I’ll talk about these two next.


Today’s Question:

How about you? What’s your accountability goal for a given day? (Either in minimum word count or time at the desk?)

You’ve probably noticed that these posts are short. My minimum goal for these is 200 words. For my current memoir project, my minimum word count for a day is 300 words.

I used to shoot for 1,500 words per day or more when I was writing my crime novels. That is, until I read these tips from John Grisham.

About the author : Seth

Published On: 06/28/2024Categories: The PracticeTags:

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