Writers are often procrastinators–not always on a macro level, but certainly on a micro one. What I mean is this: When we sit down to write, we often stare at the blank screen, wondering where to begin. I would like to challenge you this week to revisit stalled projects for at least 15 minutes a day as part of your daily writing challenge. What you’re going to do is sit down and just write. Wait, you say, that’s a cheap piece of useless advice! I disagree.
I used this strategy recently when working on an article that I struggled to find focus for. I had already done my reporting and had many great facts and quotes–way too much to be able to use, in fact. I allowed myself to just start writing, challenging myself to write as much of a first draft as possible, starting with a lead, and moving on to the middle, trusting my “ear” to give the article preliminary organization and flow.
You’ll find when you do this that you’ll have gaps in your information, sure, but you’ll know exactly what facts to look for rather than being overwhelmed with an entire topic’s worth of facts. To keep the momentum going, just make note of the facts you want to collect and do your research afterward. Also, rather than going through your notes to find the quote that you’re thinking about, just make a note about which one you’re considering and keep writing. Read through your draft–what do you think about the way that you were able to bring order and focus just by trusting yourself to just write?
You’re going to have to keep working on the article–a first draft is rarely a final draft. But I hope that you’ll find this practice helpful for those pieces that have you feeling stuck.