“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”
Whatever writing project you’re working on, there’s one thing you can count on: completing it is going to be challenging. And just about everyone has his or her own strategy for getting there. Just recently, I came across a great Web site called neurotribes.com, which featured an article in which authors shared their writing tips. Sylvia Boorstein’s advice caught my eye. She’s the author of Happiness is An Inside Job and It’s Easier Than You Think:
1. Do not open email until 5 PM on any weekday or other day when I expect to be writing much of the day.
2. Do not read other people’s work on the same subject. That might be hard for you, since you are collecting research data, but I say very little about what other people have said or thought. They’ve already said or thought it.
3. I am VERY selective about having other people read it as I go along other than my editor, and that only when I have enough written to feel secure that I have found my voice.
4. When I do not like how what I’m writing is sounding, I quit. I leave the computer. I do something else, like cook soup. I “hear” what I am about to type before I type it and if it is not sounding like me naturally talking, I know I am not clear or balanced enough to go on.
5. I do not write from the beginning to the end. I write in the order that particular parts take form in my mind and I enjoy mulling them over… I mull and mull and imagine I am explaining them to someone and then I write them down. I have the order in mind, so I write whatever part is bubbling energetically in my mind, print it out (always) and begin a stack on THE BOOK on a corner of my desk into which I can add pieces (in their proper order) as they get written, so I have a visible proof at all times that something is happening.
6. I take the due date for the first draft EXTREMELY seriously, like everything depends on that day. It makes the project energetically alive for me, like a James Bond five-minutes-and-fifty-two-seconds until the whole world blows up movie and even if the draft is finished a week early I push the SEND button just after 12 AM on the day it is due. Theatrical, I know, but I learned it from a friend of mine whom I admire as being a fine writer who prides himself on doing that.
Not checking email until 5 PM — now that’s discipline! I love Sylvia’s ideas of tackling whatever part of her book is “bubbling energetically” and stacking the pages of her book on her desk so she can see that she’s making progress. Write on!