10 Tips & Tricks for Writing on Demand

So, you’ve finally set aside the time to write, but those fingers just aren’t moving. Maybe it’s just too much pressure to have to write on demand.

But soon, Life will come roaring at you again with errands, obligations, and appointments, so you need to get those fingers moving now.

Here are 10 tips to help get those digits flying across the keyboard or notebook.

1. Start in the middle. If you can’t think of a lead sentence that’ll captivate readers to check out your post, article, or chapter, then skip it. Work backwards. Write the second paragraph, the ending, the sixteenth sentence, whatever. Don’t get stuck on the first sentence. You can always write that rocking first sentence later.

2. Use props. Pictures can inspire a scene for your story, the manner of dress for your characters, settings, etc. (I’m a fan of snapping photos with my BlackBerry when a place, person, outfit, or place strike my fancy.) Fellow CWG blogger John McNichol already wrote about using pictures of characters to prompt your description. But in addition to using photos, consider what you can do to your writing space to make it feel different and inspiring. Open a closed window, close an opened one. Light a scented candle. Put on fuzzy slippers. Do what you need to do to get relaxed and writing.

3. Do a quick outline. Not sure of what you want to say exactly? Do a superfast outline. Maybe an old-school outline with roman numerals, if you want. Or just a quick sketch. (Here’s one to fill in. It’s for an essay, but it can help with articles and blog posts.)

4. Focus on one point. Sometimes, our fingers grow still because there’s just too many ideas flying through our minds. To write a coherent blog post or article, focus on just one point. You don’t want to write about the life of Jane Austen in a blog post, so just focus on one part of her life. Even if your article assignment is huge (say, the papacy), focus on one part of it at a time. Write in baby steps, not seven-league boots.

5. Spin some mood music. Movies have soundtracks to move our feelings in a certain direction. Why not do the same when you’re writing? When writing dance scenes for my novel, I drenched my writing room with the strains of the Argentine bandone√≥n and tango orchestra. When writing thoughtful pieces at work, I crank up Radiohead, Enya, or Natalia Clavier. Sometimes, I cobble together a play list at my fave (and free) Grooveshark.

6. Change font or font size. Yes, seriously. Just a change of font can sometimes make things pop out more at you. I switch it up among Verdana, Times New Roman, and Arial. Make the size bigger, make the size smaller. Sometimes, just the visual difference can get your fingers moving.

7. Make the highlighter your friend. When you’re writing and get stuck, just write a highlighted sentence of what should be there and keep going. For example, say you’re writing about the work of James Stewart at a furious pace, but then get stuck in describing The Philadelphia Story. Stop for a moment, write Insert description of The Philadelphia Story with background info, and keep writing. You can do this with your articles, blog posts, and even rough patches in your novel. Dash off a line of what needs to be there, highlight it, and then go back when you’re inspired.

8. Fast write. Just write. Who cares if it’s crummy? Just get it all out. And everyone knows that the first draft is the cruddy one. It doesn’t matter, though. That’s what rewrites and editors are for. No one ever gets it right on the first draft. (And if they tell you that they do, they are liars, liars, with their pants on fire.)

9. Tell someone. Imagine telling someone what you want to write about. (You can call up a writing buddy, too, if that helps.) I talk to myself when writing (don’t tell!) because it helps clear my mind. Talking aloud helps. Just by telling someone what your article, blog post, or book is about can help you gain clarity in your vision for the piece. (Consider telling St. Maximilian Kolbe, too; he’s the patron saint of editors.)

10. Change your format. Is the blinking cursor on the page getting to you? Turn off your machine, and pick up a notebook and pen. Or if the pen and notebook are bugging, switch to your laptop. Sometimes, writing in long hand is just what you need. The sensation of a favorite pen on good old-fashioned paper can be therapeutic. Or if your hand is moving too slowly in your Moleskine, hop on the laptop.

Have any other ideas that you’d like to share to get start writing? Jot ‘em down in the comment box. I’d love to heard them!

Ver√≥nica Maria Jarski has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience. Her current mission in her day job is to capture the story as a MarketingProfs senior content writer and the editor of the Daily Fix blog. In wee hours of morning, she works on her personal writing projects. Her “Celebrating Blessed Miguel Pro: Games, Crafts & Activities” book is published by Behold Publications. Plus, her articles, poems, and stories have appeared in major newspapers, educational presses, and university publications. Check out her personal blog at Station 6.

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8 Responses to 10 Tips & Tricks for Writing on Demand

  1. Tim says:

    I like to close a writing session or start a new document by leaving questions to answer.

    Where are we? Why is the MC doing this?

    Then when I return to writing I don't see a blank page and I have something to think and write about. I start by answering the questions.

  2. lyricalkat says:

    CWG, right……….this is the Catholic WG! Whenever exercising a talent the first thing to engage in is PRAYER. There are less re-writes this way!

  3. Veronica Maria Jarski says:

    Tim: Oh, I like that trick of leaving a question for myself. Nice. I had not heard of that before!

  4. Veronica Maria Jarski says:

    Lyricalkat:

    Absolutely. Prayer is the fuel for everything we do.

  5. Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur says:

    Great Post!

  6. Veronica Maria Jarski says:

    Patrice: Thank you kindly! :)

  7. Sarah Reinhard says:

    Great tips, Veronica. I'm going to try the font change thing next week when my manuscript is kicking me old tail. :-)

  8. Veronica Maria Jarski says:

    Sarah: Cool. Hope it helps … :)Happy writing!