Blog 61 ImageOne of the pleasures of writing fiction is meeting readers. Some readers also are closet writers. They often tell me that getting words to paper is challenging and completing a story is daunting. So they procrastinate.

This problem, I’m sure, dates back to the first writers in Mesopotamia. Here are some strategies to get the writing happening.

Let the idea carry you. Many books start with an idea that intrigues the writer enough to begin exploring it. I find the exploration most fruitful if I give the idea licence to send me in unexpected directions. Fairly quickly, words emerge, whether for an outline, some pages or a chapter. Even though these words will be revised many times, they’re not a waste. A story is evolving.

Keep the challenge small. It can be exciting for a writer to think he’s writing a book. But the sheer size of the project can create paralysis. So I prefer to think that if I regularly get an amount of writing done, the book will take care of itself. Reducing a problem to small constituents is old advice but it works in writing.

Commit to a daily amount of writing. A daily amount of writing can be measured in hours, words, pages, sunrises, etc. On a first draft, I use 4-5 hours or 2000 words, whichever comes first. For a first edit, that changes to 4-5 hours or 5 pages.

And I mean commit. Everyone I know is busy and constantly prioritizing. So when I say a writer must commit to a daily amount of writing, it probably means he must move writing up the priority list. Which means bumping other things down. Which can be stressful. Other than long walks, I don’t have a great solution for that stress.

Recharge. I find I need a day off a week to recharge the writing battery. It’s also a good time to let the story sift through my mind. I get new ideas as well as a broader perspective on the story.

Start writing the same time every day. I find this makes me more productive. It’s made easier by knowing that I’ll feel a sense of achievement 4-5 hours later.

Cut out the noise and get comfortable. I get the most done when it’s quiet, I’m sitting in a good chair and the temperature is right.

Use the smartphone. Ideas that stimulate writing can come out of nowhere. I keep my iPhone close for voice memos and quick notes. Sadly, when I tell myself I’ll remember an idea, I usually don’t. Getting an idea while at the movies is still a problem.

Copyright © 2015 Peter Fritze

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