The Best Writing Advice

janav Productivity, Try This, Writing Leave a Comment

This month I want to focus on writing advice. I think the best writing advice I’ve ever heard is not about craft, but about keeping going, from Ernest Hemingway: “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck.”

If the hardest thing to face is a blank page, or the dreaded “what’s next?” then the easiest way to coax yourself back into the chair is to know what’s coming next, at least in part. You should have an idea, maybe a scene or a bit of dialogue. Something that has some juice. I sometimes leave a few notes for myself before I quit, to make sure I don’t forget what I’m thinking about. Maybe a couple of questions my subconscious can mull over in between writing sessions.

This is a great way to prevent block. Even when you’re not consciously thinking about it, your subconscious mind can be working on the piece, coming up with images, actions, and solutions to tricky problems. It’s amazing how often it works. Also, it keeps the flow going, even if it’s underground, so to speak. We’re not just writing when we’re sitting in front of the computer, or with a notepad. Stepping away for a bit allows fresh ideas to well up from the inner creative spring. When we sit down again, we’re ready to go much sooner than if we’re starting stone-cold. Who are these people again? What did I want to say? I don’t know what’s supposed to happen. Help!

I find it’s hard to motivate myself to do anything if I don’t have a goal in mind. And some days, a word count goal isn’t enough. Especially if I’m in the middle of a big, complicated project like a novel, leaving myself just enough light to see the next few feet of the road is enough to keep me invested, and excited about getting back to the page.

What about you? What is the best writing advice you’ve received?   

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