Friday, March 30, 2012

3 Tips for Getting Back on the Write Track

I've worked with authors for many years now, and I've found that if they get off track—if "life" happens and they move, land a new job, or have a baby—it’s often difficult for them to get back on track.

If you find yourself off track in your writing, here are a few tips to help get you back on.

#1  Read a chapter in a similar book.

Sounds silly, I know, but think about it. How many times have you read a book set in, say, Paris and began to feel rather Parisian? Your mind can sort of take on the environment, if you will, of whatever you’re reading.

So if you’re supposed to be writing a textbook, read a chapter or two of a textbook similar to the one you’re writing. Read it like you mean it, don’t just skim over it because you know the content. Read it like you’re a student.

When you begin to feel a connection to the writing, when you become engaged in that environment, put the book down. Go to your computer, and start writing something in the subject area of your book. Doesn’t make any different whether you ever use what you write, just write.
That reading–writing connection should help stimulate your writing appetite again.

#2  Reorganize your research and other project documents.

If you’ve put aside your writing project for a while, chances are good that you’ve got a pile of papers and books somewhere in your office, den, bedroom, or, I dunno, bathtub.

Pull that pile out to the middle of the floor or a large table, and start sorting through it. Put like documents with like, and then plunk them into manila folders.

Sometimes you can’t kick start a project until it’s well- and recently organized.

Give it a shot. Couldn’t hurt, might help.

#3  Work on ancillaries for chapters you’ve already written.

If you had written a few chapters before you fell off the tracks, pull them out and work on one of the ancillaries. PowerPoint (PPT) can be particularly helpful here.

Many authors enjoy the more visual aspects of putting together PPTs for their chapters. Working on a chapter’s accompanying PPT can engage you in the project without having to write much.

After you develop a few PPTs you’ll find it much easier to get back into the flow of writing chapter content.

No matter whether you’re on track or have been bumped a few miles off track, just keep telling yourself that, like the little blue train that chugged up that great big hill, you can do it!