When writing, it is important to have a place to go.
For instance, Ernest Hemingway always ended a writing session in the middle of a sentence, thus insuring that he had a place to go when he started the next day. I've relearned this lesson over and over again in my own work. If I wrap up a chapter all nice and neat, the next day I flounder about as I start a new chapter. But if I leave myself some room to work, things go much easier.
I am embarrassed to admit how many times I've scheduled a writing session, usually first thing in the morning because that is when I like to write fiction, and come to it unprepared. And it is dangerous, for me at least, to be unprepared because that is when the internet and email beckon. (I have this bad habit of clicking over to my email inboxes or yahoo home page when I stop to think. I tell myself it is to give my brain a break, but…you can be the judge of that.)
When I am unprepared for a writing session, I lack clarity on what it is I want to write. And clarity is one of the most important things, in writing and in life. (Clearing is actually one of the seven practices of the prolific and prosperous writer that make up my Writing Abundance workshop.) Without clarity, I have no place to go on the page.
But clarity can be ridiculously easy to come by, at least the kind required to know where you going when you turn on your computer and get ready to write. It just takes a little advance thought. So here are my best strategies for having a place to go on the page:
1. Make Notes Ahead of Time. In advance of your writing session, go through what info you've collected and make notes, either of where you are at or what you want to start. If you know you are going to be working on a character sketch for your new novel, make a few quick notes. Your amazing subconscious mind will take what you've written and start working on more.
2. Read Your Work Over. Re-read what you've read, the night before if you can. (This works especially great if you are going to get up and write first thing.) Reading your work over reminds you of where you are, so you don't have to reinvent everything during your writing session.
3. Make Like Hemingway. Don't write to the end of a chapter. Stop a few paragraphs short. You can even go so far as to stop in the middle of a sentence, like Ernie did. This automatically gives you a place to go.
4. Carry Your Work With You. When I'm in the full heat of working on a novel, I carry the little spiral that I use for notes around with me everywhere. Not only is it at the ready if I have an idea, but there's something about the act of carrying it around that acknowledges the novel's importance and keeps it front and center in my brain.
So those are my thoughts on always being ready. What are yours? Comment away. And keep the phrase, have a place to go, in your fertile brains because I'm coming back to it tomorrow.