My last post contained one of the tricks I use when writing – how I use iteration when I’m writing. It’s one technique I use to make steady progress and avoid writers block. Although that post was about iteration in general, it reminded me that I have a few other tricks that I wanted to share.
Before you eagerly read on, please remember that I’m not an expert writer. I have some experience, but I don’t claim to have it all figured out. I think it takes much more than a handful of magazine articles and part of a few books under your belt to claim you actually know how to write or are anything remotely close to an expert, so please take my advice with a grain of salt. That said, there were a few other techniques I used when writing both hwtsam and my chapter in Beautiful Testing that help me a ton when writing.
First – if you want to write, dedicate some time for it. I found that I needed at least an hour to be effective, and would often block off 2-3 hour chunks of time on weekends. In one prolific stretch of writing, I took a week off of work, and wrote every day from 9-12 and again from 1-4. In my hour “off” I would go for a run and grab some food – the break was very energizing. I think I wrote 3 full chapters of hwtsam that week.
Final tip (and also a sure writers block stopper) is something I picked up from Hemingway (not directly, but through the Paris Review). The tip is to stop writing every day before you’ve run out of ideas (I couldn’t find the actual quote where I read this, so bear with me). Think of this scenario: you’re cranking out some prose at the end of the day. You have a fantastic idea for a sample, story, or exposition – something that you’re ready to crank out and know what you want to do. My advice is to NOT write it. Instead, jot down a few notes that will help you get things going the next day and then call it a night. Otherwise, if you write your brilliant work at the end of the day, you’ll have to start from a clean plate the next day, and starting writing from a blank page is hard. I find it so much easer to get in the flow of writing if I already know exactly what I’m starting with in the morning. Sometimes a night of sleep also helps to vet the idea a bit more. Again, ymmv.
Hope there’s some useful stuff in here.