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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Keeping it Going

by Andrew Zinnes

With football season in full swing one of the words
you hear talked about is momentum - meaning when one
team has it, they gain confidence and can seemingly do
no wrong. You can get into the same groove when
writing, too, where it feels like everything cranking
out of your word processor is gold. But then something
happens and it stops.

I say this for my writing partner and I were cruising
along with a new outline and things were going really
well. Then my child (aka the cutest Petrie dish in the
world) gets a cold and it spreads through my house
faster than those wildfires two weeks ago.

Knocked me on my ass for several days and had me coughing up
things Dr. Seuss never dreamed up. Anyway, needless to
say, the momentum of writing ground to a halt. And
trying to get back in the saddle has been tough.

So I wonder out there in Rouge Wave land, what are your
tricks for getting through rough patches? One I heard
was always leave one or two things unfinished from the
night before so you know where to pick up the next
day. Sort of a running start if you will.

So come on! Let's hear it!

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JPS said...

Your idea of leaving things unfinished is of course the tried-and-true one, a strategy I've used for thirty years, or at least ever since my mentor at the time told me about it. I think Hemingway once said that writing was like climbing mountains in a range of them: if you end your day at the bottom of one, then you'll spend too much time trying to gain the momentum to ascend the next one.

So what I always do is leave myself at the metaphorical top of the mountain. Especially when I'm writing a novel I sketch out the opening lines to the next chapter or section, so I get a running start the next day. I at least know where I'm going if not what the ultimate goal is for that day.

Also--both with scripts and fiction--I go back some pages and begin revising. (In a script I go back to page one every day; in a novel usually twenty pages.) That also gives me the needed momentum to move forward.

Laura Reyna said...

Over the yrs I've come to the conclusion that starting is the hardest part-- at least for me. I try to keep the momentum up but sometimes i still drop the ball.

A few tricks:

1. I don't berate or criticize myself, call myself lazy etc. I does no good. It doesn't help me get going, it only makes me feel like crap.

2. If I don't want to work on the main project at hand, I work on another project. I'm always working on more than one thing partly for this reason.

3. If I don't want to work on any specific project, I work on coming up with new ideas/concepts. I find this fun & it keeps my mind on screenwriting. Even if i'm not churning out pages, I know I'm still contributing to the overall goal. After a while I get enthusiastic again & hit the specific project.

4. I get out what I'm working on, READ my notes & the pages I have so far. Inevitably, a new idea will come to me & i'll want to try it out-- and I'm back in it. :-)