Geetanjali Mukherjee

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Writing Tricks That Work and Other Advice

I love to read and collect writing advice books and articles. Over the years I must have read hundreds of books that give advice on writing. However, its not often that I apply the advice, for various reasons. Mostly because I think the advice doesn't apply to me (usually if it is specific to fiction writing), sometimes because I think my issues with writing are too complex for a simple 'trick' to solve the problem.

One such piece of advice I have read about many times is Ernest Hemingway's technique of leaving a sentence unfinished, so that he would have something to start the next day off. He thought that it would be a lot easier to start a session of writing if he had something easy to start with, so we would stop the day's writing right in the middle of a sentence or thought.

I have read this advice in several books, and many writers recommend it. I never applied it myself. or rather I never deliberately applied it. It did happen sometimes that I inadvertently had to stop in the middle of what I was writing because I was interrupted - and I never somehow could remember what I was planning to say next. That was the main reason I didn't intentional employ this method. Besides, my blocks are usually more complex than not knowing what first sentence to start with.

Or so I thought. The other day, I had started an essay for a book I'm currently writing, but had to stop after one sentence of the second part of the essay. I came across the sentence when feeling blocked and contemplating giving up on writing, at least for a few hours. It was a complete sentence, but the first one of a new point. Somehow it triggered a cascade of ideas, and a few pages just poured out.

I am ashamed to see that 'tricks' do work, and that perhaps not knowing how to begin is truly my problem more often than I realise. I read recently that 'good' inertia sets in - when once you start to move, you keep on moving. So once the words start to flow, however mediocre they may be, they bring more along for the ride, and they usually improve with speed and volume.

My advice: try advice that you hear out for yourself before reserving judgement on its efficacy! [And if you're frequently blocked - try leaving a sentence of a new idea to add to on your next writing session.]

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