Punctuality Rules!

Take Your Starting Positions…

Take Your Starting Positions…


How fast can you assume your starting position?

When you sit down to write, is everything ready for you to just … go?

  • Are you reaching for your pen or your keyboard even as you sit down in your chair? Do you keep everything ready to go at an instant’s notice, so that you can take advantage of inspiration whenever it strikes?
  • Or do you need to settle in, adjust the things on your desk, arrange your pens just so, take a sip of coffee, gaze at the pictures on your desk? Do you need to center and compose yourself, reaching deep inside before you start to write?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, class. Either methodology is equally valid, it all depends on which works for you. And this is what makes this important.

You may write like a cannon-shot, where your best works comes fast and furious, no stopping to think, no questioning your word choices, just boom, boom, boom, words down on paper. Editing will come later. Or, you may prefer to reach for your muse’s hand and let her gently walk you through the writing process, where it’s almost a meditative process. Pondering over the ideal words, shaping each sentence before it leaves your hand.

What matters is that you know which works for you. A cannon-shot writer will slowly go bananas trying to find his “muse” (who’s likely deaf from all the blasts). A meditative writer is only going to be stressed with the pressure of sitting and quickly writing … think of Emily Dickenson in a 1940’s newspaper room, for example. Does the phrase “fragile flower” come to mind? But that same, hardbitten journalist isn’t going to be going on any touchy-feely writing retreats in the woods, either.

The question here is for you to figure out what works for you and then try to arrange circumstances to fit. Should your computer be powered up, with the word processor running all the time, ready to go? Should there be pen and paper in your pocket for sudden bursts of inspiration? Or should your desk be more of an oasis, where your inner muse can hang out, spinning happy, writing thoughts for you?

Because … and this is why this is important … whether you can just sit down and write or whether you need the familiar routine of booting up the computer, adjusting your papers, and so on, you need to structure your writing experience so that you can slip from the default, Not-Writing behavior that we’re all in for much of the day to the ideal, Writing frame of mind as seamlessly as possible.

(Don’t miss the follow-up to this post: The Finish Line.)

13 thoughts on “Take Your Starting Positions…

  1. --Deb Post author

    Sometimes, getting started is the hardest thing to do. It helps to know what you need to do to make it easier.

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  3. Jan - queenofkaos

    I find that I am much more productive if I have projects and things ready to go (that includes a clean desk, nothing scatters my thinking more than a cluttered desk). I am inclined to never get going if I allow “prep” time and that is why I am much farther ahead if I don’t open my email first thing, but I do anyway most days. Bad!

    Jan – queenofkaos’s last blog post..March Break and the Work at Home Mom

  4. --Deb Post author

    @Sol–I’m a big fan of editing, but probably don’t edit myself as much as I should. I find that it depends on how well the words were flowing in the first place. If they flowed reasonably well, I usually just look for things like typos, but if every word was a struggle and the thoughts had to be wrestled onto the page, well, they need rehabilitation. You have to clean up after a fight, you know!

    @Jan–It’s so nice to hear that somebody else has the same issue with clutter that I do. I HATE working with clutter. I find that it’s like my brain is keeping mental tabs of everything on the desk. “I’ll do this first, then that, but that pile over there can wait…” The more that’s on my desk, the busier my mind is trying to keep track of everything. If the desk is clear, then I can focus.

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  6. JoLynn Braley

    Hi Deb,

    I tend to work more efficiently when I just sit down and go with my idea – almost like being under a time pressure. When I’m “forced” to produce, it helps me focus, otherwise I want to sit there and proofread forever.

    I’m also trying something new – voice writing software. It’s really cool and it helps me when the words don’t flow through the pen or keyboard.

    JoLynn Braley’s last blog post..Shrink Yourself Emotional Eating Experiment – Week Three

  7. --Deb Post author

    I don’t think voice-writing software and I would EVER be a match. I tend to babble too much as it is (grin).

  8. Debt Free or Bust - Sherri

    Hi Deb,

    I tend to do both kinds of writing, sit down and shoot, and sit and ponder and carefully write.

    I would love a stream-of-consciousness recorder to grab all the thoughts constantly running around in my head so I wouldn’t lose so many before I can get them down on paper or into the computer. I carry a notebook and write notes quickly on scraps of paper, but it’s still not quick enough for some of those fleeting ideas that I’d like to remember and research further.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks for a great article,

    Debt Free or Bust – Sherri’s last blog post..Returned Refurbished Desktop Computer

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