“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway
It’s 3:00 in the afternoon. You are pacing the house anxiously. Soon children will be disembarking from school buses and rushing home to flood the streets with bicycles. You can already hear little Billy whooping and hollering in his unusually loud, high-pitched voice that grates on every nerve ending. Oh yes, and there will be dogs barking. You have 20 minutes to write something, anything. You gaze across the room at your silent computer, chomping another cookie for fortification. The cursor is blinking furiously from across the room. The blank page has turned into a judgmental fiend, staring madly at you as if you are responsible for her empty state of being. You have 19 minutes! You dust the crumbs from your lips and sit down. Your fingers hover over the keyboard. They twitch. Images of the unfolded heaps of laundry sitting on your bed pop into your head. What if someone comes by for a visit and sees the dirty dishes? You look outside to center your thoughts. Take a deep breath. Does the grass need mowing?
Does this sound familiar to you? Procrastination does not always mean that we are not making the time to write. Sometimes our own thoughts and behaviors distract us even though we have the intention to write. Here are some tips to keep you on track with your writing goals.
Create a writing space with photos that inspire you to write your story. Clip images from magazines that resemble the characters in your story and tape them to a vision board above your writing area. Then, when you look up to gather your thoughts, you will see your heroine staring back at you, prompting you to keep going.
Have an outline charted out. Whether you wrote the outline on a dry-erase board or in a notebook, keep it handy. When you feel stuck in a particular section, jump to another one that you feel ready to write about. Make a note to go back and finish the scene that caused you to stumble a bit. It will come to you later.
Go for a walk or meditate for 10–15 minutes. When distractions hit us, our thought processes are hijacked, making it impossible to work on creative projects. Physical exercise and meditation can help to clear your mind, allowing you to flow back into that creative state of mind.
Lastly, try setting a word count that you want to achieve each day. Even if it is just to write one sentence, it is important to develop the habit of writing every single day. When your brain is trained this way, it is easier to get into the creative flow.
Ernest Hemingway made a point to write each day, whether it was a single, perfectly crafted sentence, 300 words, or 1,000. He didn’t let the number of words bother him as long as he put letters on paper.