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5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

The occasional bump in the writing process is normal, but it can be difficult to work through. Here, author Genevieve Essig shares five ways to keep your writing rolling.

Aside from those once-in-a-generation, less-than-registrable-percentage, too-far-above-mere-mortals-to-identify-with individuals out there, most of us writers occasionally experience slowdowns, or even full stops, in our writing endeavors. These delays can be caused by pretty much anything—family, other jobs, biblical weather events (I’ve experienced it all, from snowstorms to hurricanes), existential crises, online streaming platforms—but, regardless of the reason, they are always frustrating because they keep us from sharing our work with the world.

(5 Tips for Finishing Your Book)

So, here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful for keeping my writing continually rolling forward.

Make the "Writing Lunch" a thing

Writing can get lonely. In my own journey so far, there have been more moments than I’d like to admit when it’s made perfect sense to me why so many famous writers have lost their minds. Therefore, I’ve instituted what I’ve coined the “Writing Lunch.”

Every few days, I reach out to the friends I know are working on writing projects of some kind—casual, professional, fiction, nonfiction, screenplay, journal, it doesn’t matter—and arrange a meet-up at a local coffee shop or bar. A short catch-up is allowed at the beginning, but, as a rule, there are no critiques, airings of grievances, or extended discussions of any kind. We are together simply to benefit from each other’s company and creative energy while we shut up and write.

Write like you brush your teeth

I’ll be the first to admit, when I give myself an inch, I often take a mile. So, sometimes I just have to make things mandatory. While I suppose people could differ on how mandatory brushing one’s teeth is (I won’t ask), the idea is to make writing a required habit.

Pick a time of day, length of time, and/or number of words that works for you, but turn writing into something you do regularly without a special plan.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

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Never let an idea go to waste

There’s no predicting when an idea for a plot point, character tic, or even enjoyable turn of phrase may occur. When one does, don’t fool yourself and say you’ll remember it later because you won’t. Write it down before it flutters off into the universe, lost to you forever.

We have so many ways to record our thoughts now—note-taking apps, voice-to-text memos, smart home consoles (even Post-Its still exist)—there’s really no excuse. If you do this consistently, you will have a lovely chest of gems to dip into whenever you run low on creative currency.

Move your body

Sometimes what keeps me from sitting down to write is the sitting down. I’ve been known to spend so much time working, unmoving, that my body aches. That is not only uncomfortable but also extremely unhealthy, so I’ve taken to setting very specific rules that force me to move regularly so I won’t reach that crisis point.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

At the risk of sounding unhinged, here are some examples (you will want to make your own): Travel to and from the restroom using lunging or skipping only. At the end of each page, jump on the bed 50 times. If someone calls or messages, only answer while pacing.

Treadmill your writing

Stopping to smell the roses might be nice on a jog around the neighborhood, but it’s not possible when you’re on a treadmill. So, if you treat your writing like you’re on a treadmill, it may help you get through to the end without spending too much time on details you will probably change later anyway.

In the theater, a stumble-through (performing the entire show without stopping except in the event of disaster) is critical because it demonstrates that everyone can get from curtain to curtain and reveals what needs fixing the most. The same exercise can be invaluable for bringing a writing project to completion, as well. After all, you can always edit—unless you haven’t written anything yet.

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