Beating Writer's Block 3: Preparing and Timing

Sometimes just preparing a document for writing will trigger the writing urge

Setting the type size, font, double or single space and adding page numbers can get you past the first few minutes of blank page syndrome. Opening your notebook, checking you have the right pens etc does the same. Train yourself to prepare in this way and then to write without stopping for five minutes, even if you simply produce gibberish. Tear up or delete that work and start again. You'll find that getting the first five minutes out of the way will give you a better start the second time around - this is one of those lovely and rare occasions where you can go back and make a second first impression! Like Pavlov's dogs, you can train yourself by setting signals you will learn to obey. Teaching yourself to get the rubbish out of the way in the first few minutes of writing is a simple task which works for a lot of writers.

Good and bad writing times

For many people there are good hours, good days, even good seasons. Buy a cheap notebook and record how you feel at the beginning and end of every writing session for about six weeks. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself. When you identify rhythms in your writing you can use your ‘bad’ times to submit work, edit finished pieces, research markets, gather inspiration or do the washing up! Keep your good times for constructive writing: that way you don't exhaust yourself with non-creative tasks and then come to your fiction tired and drained.