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Monday, May 28

Leave Yourself Notes: Ways to be a More Productive Writer, Part 5

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Only a few more tips to go in this series, and today is one of my personal favorites. I noticed that some elements stole the momentum right out of my writing session, especially when I needed to describe a room, setting, or person and I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to say. Then it hit me that I didn't need to know those things to keep writing.

This first article in this series is on finding the right time and place to write, followed by more on preparation, stopping in the middle, not re-reading too much of the previous session, and leaving yourself notes. The final stop is all about not wasting time. 

Tip number five on being a more productive writer:

Leave yourself notes on things that will halt your writing momentum and come back to them later.

For me, setting descriptions always bogged me down and I'd spend a lot of time trying to think up details and how they fit. So instead of slowing down when the writing is going well, I make a note that says: (describe) and move on.

This made a huge difference. If I had a world building element I still needed to research, one or two words in parentheses kept me from stopping. I once had my characters playing a game, so I said (game piece) when they played instead of trying to figure it all out then and there. I'll also do (food) and (plant).

I've even done this with names. One character was (Oldguy). First instance I used the parentheses, after that he was just Oldguy. Once I figured out his name I went back and did a find and replace.

This also works for a scene that takes a lot of figuring out but the outcome is a given. Like a chase scene. You might have (chase scene) and move on. Be wary of skipping larger scenes of course, as you don't know what might happen there that could affect scenes down the line. But for an action that might be a page or two and is more mechanical (like a chase scene) saving it for later is fairly easy to do and can keep you writing.

Notes are a great way to keep the flow flowing, and they can be about anything you're not yet ready to write. The parentheses are also easily searchable so you can go back and work on them when you have time. Like during those off hours when you're able to write but not for long, or during your non-creative times.

This tip's challenge:
Make a note next time you find yourself stopping or spending a lot of time staring at the screen instead of writing.

As for last tip's challenge... Did you re-read or dive right in? How much more did you get done?