Scribblings

You’ve got a writing project, and you’re finding it hard to get started.  Here are some tips and musings that might help you – I know they’ve helped me.

 

  1. I know this sounds old-fashioned, but it works: mentally carve your writing project up into little pieces as themes and thoughts and bullet points occur to you, and then put all the pieces down on 3×5 index cards. Spread the cards all over the floor in whatever order seems appropriate at the time. Muck around in the cards for awhile.  Do you see your project taking a bit of shape?  Some order happening here? Yes!!
  2. Next, put the contents of just one card down in your draft– start with any card to get going. Then start a column on the floor headed by that card.  Now take another card that looks as if it might relate to the first, make that card second in the column, and put its contents down on your draft — and so on.
  3. If you can’t find another card that seems related, just start another column, following the procedure above. Keep going – on and on and on, and entire sections of your project will appear!  (You’ll need a lot of floor space.)
  4. Make the room cold – helps you to stay awake.
  5. Fancy yourself part of the glorious, eccentric writer-ly tradition – keeps the interest up (yours.)
  6. The only things you want on are your computer and the lights. Stash any devices that might distract you. You need to get in the zone.
  7. Remember: like new babies, new writing is ugly and formless and gooey – both do improve! Don’t get hung up on wanting gorgeous right away.
  8. If you need a quote, fabricate one to keep you flowing – you can verify or get someone to say something close to it later.
  9. It’s never over – like the last dance, it can go on and on. Stop it somewhere –an unresolved issue or question, a direction for the future, a pithy quote. Ending where you began is a good idea, too. And vice-versa, for that matter – if you know how it’s going to end, your concluding ideas can work to get you started.
  10. This is hard: the part you’re most maddeningly fond of probably should be cut.

 

 

Here are some wonderful notions from people who’ve thought a lot about writing- and have written a lot, too. I found these at

http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/art-of-writing.

1. Cut the boring parts

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

  • Unless you’re writing for personal reasons alone, you need to consider the attention of your readers. There’s no point is publishing content that isn’t useful, interesting, or both.

2. Eliminate unnecessary words

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain

  • I used to feel that using words like “really”, “actually”, or “extremely” made writing more forceful. It doesn’t. They only get in the way. Cut them and never look back.

 

3. Write with passion

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

  • It’s not hard to realize that unless you’re excited about your writing no one else will be.

 

4. Paint a picture

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

  • Simply stating something is fine, but when you need to capture attention, using similes, metaphors, and vivid imagery to paint a picture creates a powerful emotional response.

 

5. Keep it simple

Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.

  • Maybe it was all those late nights, struggling to fill out mandatory 10 page papers, but many people seem to think that worthwhile writing is long and drawn out. It’s more difficult (and effective) to express yourself in the simplest possible manner.

 

Look, you wouldn’t want to argue with any of these guys, would you? So make your writing vibrant and seductive and clear as mountain water. Speak from both your heart and your mind, and people will listen.

—Rachel

Format

Here are some wonderful notions from people who’ve thought a lot about writing- and have written a lot, too. I found these at http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/art-of-writing.
1. Cut the boring parts
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard
Unless you’re writing for personal reasons alone, you need to consider the attention of your readers. There’s no point is publishing content that isn’t useful, interesting, or both.

2. Eliminate unnecessary words
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain
I used to feel that using words like “really”, “actually”, or “extremely” made writing more forceful. It doesn’t. They only get in the way. Cut them and never look back.

3. Write with passion
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth
It’s not hard to realize that unless you’re excited about your writing no one else will be.

4. Paint a picture
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov
Simply stating something is fine, but when you need to capture attention, using similes, metaphors, and vivid imagery to paint a picture creates a powerful emotional response.

5. Keep it simple
Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.
Maybe it was all those late nights, struggling to fill out mandatory 10 page papers, but many people seem to think that worthwhile writing is long and drawn out. It’s more difficult (and effective) to express yourself in the simplest possible manner.

Look, you wouldn’t want to argue with any of these guys, would you? So make your writing vibrant and seductive and clear as mountain water. Speak from both your heart and your mind, and people will listen.
—Rachel

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