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Building bridges isn’t just for engineers

You have only twenty minutes of writing time today but spend the first five remembering what you did yesterday.

You’re overwhelmed and paralyzed when your hands hit the keyboard.

You lose the thread of ideas from day to day, feeling momentum leaching out of the process like air out of a tire. 

You poke around revising last week’s work but aren’t inspired to tackle something new, so you skitter off to Twitter instead of writing. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Help yourself from one writing session to another by building a bridge.

Here are just three of the many possible ways to do it:

  • Write yourself a quick note on the essential idea or thread you’re working with, and where you want to take it tomorrow. Read it first thing at your next session.
  • Bullet out the three points you think will come next, and start there the next time you sit down to write.
  • Stop in the middle of a word so that you’re forced to finish it as a kick-start.
Wood and metal suspension bridge across a valley into the treetops. Photo by Sven Huls via Pexels.

In her wonderful book The Creative Habit, master choreographer Twyla Tharp talks about building a bridge this way:

There are ways to increase the chances of successive successes….

I stop when there’s still some energy left in the room and I know where we would have gone if we hadn’t stopped. Knowing what comes next is like crocheting: The end of one day knits into the next, and you wind up with a garment that is flexible but strong….

Try to stop when you have a few drops left in the tank, and use that fuel to build a bridge to the next day….

As an exercise, for the next week or so, end your working day when you still have something in reserve. Now ask yourself, exactly what is it that you’re putting into reserve. Is it raw energy? Is it desire? Is it a few more ideas left unexplored…? Whatever it is, describe it in writing on a notepad or index card. Put the note away and don’t think about it for the rest of the day. Start the next day by looking at your note….

At worst, the note will give you something to start with. More likely…you will find a way to improve on it.

Twyla Tharp

Last month Anna Quindlen told a Zoom room of writers (and me): “I never knock off at the end of a chapter. I never knock off at the end of the paragraph. I never knock off at the end of a sentence. I always knock off mid-sentence. Because first thing in the morning, when my insecurities are at their highest level…I can finish a half-written sentence. If I look at a finished sentence first thing, I’ll be watching Netflix all week.”

Imagine what it would feel like to gather momentum as you go, to drop right into your project without the usual dithering time. 

I have a whole beautiful tool belt of strategies to help you do it. 

We’ll find the right one(s) for you inside The Partnership
, my one-on-one catalyst program for nonfiction writers of all stripes, so you can hit the ground running at every writing session, no matter how short.

Learn more and sign up for a free discovery call here.

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