Great Start – Better Start Over

You have an idea for an article or short story. You sit down at the keyboard and the words roll out perfectly. It’s exactly what you want to say.

Then you come to a part you’re not sure about. You think about where to go next but that’s not enough. You do a search hoping to get some ideas. No help there. It was all going so good. Then you go ahead and write the next paragraph anyway and it’s terrible. You can’t possibly keep it, so you scratch it out and try again. Terrible again.

You’ve become a victim of your own success. When we feel like we’re “in the groove” we can produce such great writing that we refuse to even consider deleting it. It’s exactly what you wanted. The problem is, it isn’t always going where you need it to go.

5 Reasons Why an Article or Book Outline May Stall

1. You’ve lost track of the main thesis.

2. You have too many directions. You need to decide what’s important.

3. You haven’t done enough conceptual work to develop your idea.

4. Your topic is too narrow for the length of piece you are trying to write.

5. Your topic is too broad. You need to break it into several pieces of writing. Your current piece may work better as an overview of the work to be done.

Go ahead and kill that fine introduction that’s jamming you up and fix your writing idea.

But maybe none of the reasons above apply. You know exactly what you are going to write, but get stuck anyway. This happens most often when you’ve been thinking about what you’re going to write before sitting down to write. You’ve written the start in your head so many times that it’s final draft quality. Once you get past the part you’ve been thinking about, it turns into first draft. It’s garbage by comparison and you don’t want to go on. You delete the paragraph(s) following your perfect intro thinking another try will do it. Not likely.

There are some ways to deal with this problem. One is to accept that this really is a first draft. Just write what you want to say badly and fix it next draft.

Another tactic is wiping out your perfect intro and writing the piece from scratch. If you can’t continue, it’s the only way. Think of it as destruction for the sake of creation.

There is a third way. Put the piece away and do something else. When you come back, you may have the next part worked out too. This can be a very tedious way of writing, but it can be effective for short pieces.

The best way to avoid this kind of problem is to just write everything as first draft on your first attempt. Even when you have the lines perfectly worked out, just write them quickly and get the whole thing on paper fast. When you’re done, then go back and perfect your art.

Article by Ivan Izo.


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