Tricks to Writing When You’re Too Close Already
I was talking with a friend recently about how she was stuck on an article she’s writing, and the deadline’s looming. We both acknowledged that normally, we’d advise shelving the piece, working on some other stuff, and coming back to it a few days later.
Only she didn’t have days. She had hours.
We talked, and I’ll share with you the tips I did with her. (I’m sure they aren’t the only ones, so please comment with your own!)
Blank Page, Round Two
Sometimes, I will start over. I’ll shelve the document I have, and then rewrite it from memory.
What this accomplishes is revealing what I think I’m talking about versus what I actually did. And because I’ve written the draft already, I know the beats I’m working with — narrative, argumentative, or illustrative — and where I’m headed.
Then I’ll compare with what I had before, and see which ones had strengths that I want to use. I essentially merge those strengths together into one near-final version. After that comes making sure it’s coherent and the necessary copyediting.
I know people used to do this all the time, but I’ve also seen this technique get a bit lost thanks to our ability to easily edit everything we make.
Twist the Layout
When I made a little ashcan game back in 2007, I was putting text I had worked over into layout. Suddenly, it looked new — the fonts were different, the orientation caused the line breaks to be in different places, the shape of the text on the page was different. Within moments, I caught typos, missed words, unclear language, the sort of stuff I was trying to work over the day before.
Since then, when I get to that point in a document & I’m using Word (or anything that lets me fiddle with layout), I’ll get crazy with it, switching from portrait to landscape, changing the font family & size, making it a two-column layout, all that stuff. Because I’m using Word at this stage, and not layout software like InDesign, I’m comfortable with those layout tweaks. They aren’t tweaks I’m planning on keeping; it’s just a took to have the text look fresh.
So, when you’re in this situation, what do you do?