Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Writer’s Block: Reviewing Discarded Lines/Pieces

You can’t procrastinate from writing forever. The editing, submissions and publishing research is all important, but you must continue writing. A good way to start writing again is to look back at discarded work or fragments as a writing prompt. There was something about the material that worked for you at one point and it might help you to get starting on similar or even different work.

One of the beautiful aspects of being a writer is that you can save all of your drafts. Unlike, say oil painting, you can’t do any damage to your earlier work. With a careful filing system, you can save your drafts, old lines, discarded paragraphs, etc.

I save my drafts according to a title (usually the original title) and a number. With each draft, I renumber the piece. I have chosen not to use the date it was written, although a lot of people do that.

It is up to you to develop a system that works for you. I heard Rita Dove recently talk about how she saves drafts and she said she relies on colors. Each draft, subject matter or piece feels like a certain color and she files it in a folder of that color. I’m not sure that would work for me, but there are endless options.

If you write in journals instead of on the computer, you might want to use post it notes on the pages with pieces you’d like to return to. If you do use the computer, you might find it easier to print out your work instead of storing it on the computer. (Always remember to back up your work!)

When you are ready to start writing again, look through your discarded work. This may consist of lists of words, full stories or just paragraphs. Whatever it is, read through your work with fresh eyes. You will probably find that you are ready to continue the original work or start something new.

The important thing is to start writing again.

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