Sunday, August 02, 2009

Slipping Back Into the Flow

You’ve had one of those magical mornings when the words are flowing from your pen in a steady stream, and you're reluctant to stop because you fear the words may never come this smoothly again.

Have you ever felt this way?

It isn’t easy to pull yourself away from the page--to pull yourself out of the water--at these moments, but sometimes you can’t help it.

You have to pick up a child at school or make it to the post office before it closes or shower before leaving for the office, and you know time is running out and you need to close up shop until tomorrow... or the next day.

So, how do you get back into the flow?

One strategy is to put down your pen before reaching the end of a sentence or paragraph... and return to the page the next day and start writing where you left off.

Another strategy is to leave your work at a dramatic point in the action, stopping just before the climax occurs, and begin there the next time you return to the page.

Using word or writing prompts is an equally effective strategy for drawing your mind and emotions back into the place that you left the day before.

Sometimes I’ll end a chapter, and, before closing up shop for the day, I’ll start a blank page with the title of the next chapter using words that will pull me emotionally into the story again.

Or sometimes I’ll finish a sentence or a paragraph, noting down a word that will connect me emotionally to what I’ve just written so that I can step into the story and start writing as soon as I sit down to work the next day.

For this post, in fact, I scribbled down “word prompts” on a blank page in my notebook. And this morning, when I opened the notebook and saw “word prompts,” I began writing. (Admittedly, the words aren't emotionally engaging, but they did the trick.)

The key is to find a word or words (or image) that will trigger your imagination so you can slip into the water again, almost without noticing that you were on shore, and start swimming in the same direction that you were swimming in when you left the day before.

That’s how word and writing prompts work for me, anyway.

What about you?

For more on word and writing prompts, visit:

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