Advice, Fiction, Motivation, Scene, Tips, Writing

One useless writing tip!

Last month at a critique meeting, I recounted my experience with a writing tip I’d read. Some famous author (I’m bad with names) said that he always ended his writing day in the middle of a sentence. For him, it was a jumpstart into the next day’s writing session. For me, it was sheer frustration.

I sat with my fingers poised on the keyboard for a half-hour trying to recapture the words I had intended to write. “As he ran back toward home, he strained to make out the stairway  … “ Hmmm. I read it again. And again. I knew, of course, this was Jalal running on the beach, and I knew why he was looking for the stairway. But how had I intended to end that particular sentence? And what was the next line meant to be? In the end, I deleted that sentence and “meditated” to re-visualize the scene. Eventually, I saw that Jalal doesn’t see Renee on the stairway because she’s descended to the beach. He doesn’t notice this and runs by her. She calls out, startles him, he turns around. Then, as the whole scene unfolded, I typed away, irritated I had wasted those thirty minutes on a half-finished sentence. Now, no matter what, I not only finish the sentence, I finish the scene before I end my writing day.

Obviously, that author’s writing tip is not useless for him, nor likely for many others, it just didn’t work for me. Have you tried any writing tips that didn’t work for you?

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44 thoughts on “One useless writing tip!”

  1. The writing tip I ignore is to not write ideas down and the strongest ones will remain. If I have inspiration, I have to write it down, the exact words that come to me because I have too many other things cluttering up my brain to hope inspiration will stick around.

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  2. I don’t generally end a writing session in the middle of a sentence, but I’ll frequently end with a cliff-hanger. (This is another way of saying I don’t have a freaking clue what’s going to happen next. 🙂 )

    I’ll mull that over while I’m walking the dog or driving or just before I fall asleep — or all three (though not simultaneously!) — and generally I’ll have some idea of where to go next when I start writing again.

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  3. I always finish my sentence/paragraph before stopping for the night. I know that I would have the same problem that you do, and that it would annoy me if I couldn’t remember how to finish a sentence. What I do is I try to stop a) at the end of a chapter or b) at a place that I know will be easy to pick back up.

    There are a lot of “tips” here that people mentioned that I ignore. Like getting up early to write – HA, somehow I don’t think writing in a lack of sleep induced fog would do me any good. Or the NaNoWriMo “make your first draft crap if you have to”. Now NaNo taught me to push through and finish a draft, but I can’t not edit in a first draft. To be fair, I keep my editing to a minimum – typos, grammer, that kind of stuff – but I still do it. Or the “you must be either super detailed in outlining or not outline at all” school of thought – I’m somewhere in between.

    I think you should take each writing “tip” with a grain of salt until you can edit it, modify it, and change it to suit your own tastes. Or cast it out completely. What works for one person won’t work for everyone.

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  4. I enjoyed reading all the commentary prior to today.
    Personally, my inspiration seems to come at 4 a.m. most consistently, so I get up early and write undisturbed for a few hours. For longer pieces, the most useful tip I have had is to think of it as a movie with at least ten scenes in it, and tell it. Once I briefly outline the scenes, I can move back and forth through them, making it all fit.
    Mary Jean

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    1. Thank you, Mary Jean. Wow, 4 a.m. is early, but it’s great that you know this about yourself. I write best in the mornings too, just not quite that early.

      That’s a good tip. I see my stories and novels in movie form. The hard part is writing well enough so the reader can see the movie too. I have some good critique partners who let me know when I leave things a little hazy.

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      1. I go to Chrysalis, a women writers group sponsored by Clackamas Community College (Oregon City, OR), overseen by a faculty member. They’ve been meeting for many years, and have quite a few published members. It’s very business like, to the point, well done. They are dead on in their critiques too. I have tried other writing groups, which were interesting, but not nearly as effective. They inspire me to do my best. MJ

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