About writing – or finishing up what you’ve started…
I have been asked several times how I get started writing and how I bring the project to the place of completion. A few years ago a literary agent told me that a writer who actually finishes a work is pretty rare. It seems there are a lot of us who are collectors: we gather story bits and pieces and quotes and interesting facts, make several starts, but sitting down to finish is the hardest.
I have longed to ask other writers about their format, their logistics – how they sit down and write. And finish. All of us have our peculiar ways to get in our own head space.
Whether it’s an article, a new book idea or a blog series, here are 7 things that I do before I even begin to sit at my laptop and hammer the keys:
1. Inspiration is a must!
I find a Bible verse that spurs me on, gives guidance and encouragement. I write it everywhere! It’s in my notebook and printed off and tacked in multiple locations.
2. Set your goals.
I start with the date I need to be finished and work backwards. Then I set smaller reachable goals in between for chapters or sections. I divide up the work and make it manageable.
3. Put writing days on your calendar.
Hold those days sacred. Plan for at least 4-5 good hours of writing. Create a goal for each writing day. Plan your writing days with research done ahead of time, what you think you are going to write, the direction you are headed. Then create a loose outline.
4. Get all your resources together in one place.
Keep your resources handy – books, commentaries, dictionaries – out and readily available. You will need them for fact checks and quotes. If you are going to eventually include footnotes, stick them in as you go. You can edit them later, just get them in place.
5. On writing days start writing.
Quit thinking about it. Start. Don’t wait until you have your words figured out. Almost every writer I’ve ever talked to or read about says this: they don’t know what they are going to write or how it’s going to turn out until they start writing. It is then the thoughts and words flow!
6. Edit later, NOT as you write.
Don’t get lost in the weeds of perfect spelling, punctuation, footnotes, or sentence placement. Get it all on paper or screen the first go. Take a 5-10 minute break every hour. Makes notes off to the side if you need to but keep on writing!
7. When it’s over let your brain rest.
Good luck with this – it is HARD! When your writing time is over, let it be over. Do something totally different. Keep your notebook handy for those thoughts that come to you, but don’t continue writing in your head.