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Sunday, July 26, 2020

3 Ways You Can Set Yourself Up to Write

Write every day. That’s the advice that we are so often given but how do you squeeze writing in around your day-to-day activities? It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with children who are distance learning, working remotely yourself, or just dealing with day to day household tasks, it can be way too easy to put your writing off. You finally get a moment to write and . . .

Nothing. The words simply refuse to flow. Here are three things that you can do to help the words flow when you have time to write.

Have a Ritual. Setting up a writing ritual may sound strange but I’m here to tell you that it works. When I am doing a hard copy edit. I’m usually working on a deadline which means that I need to get it done now. What is my ritual? In the dining room, an area where I don't normally work, I set out my print manuscript, a pencil, a fresh cup of coffee, and a specific candle. Even on days my mind is scattered, when I smell that candle, I sit down and get to work. 

Have a Plan. Know what you are going to work on. Don’t wait for the Muse to come along and drop something in your lap. Instead, develop a plan. For some people, this plan can be really general. “Today, I am going to draft a picture book about bees.” For other people, it has to be a bit more specific. Not only do you need a project, you also need an outline.  Don't worry if what you need differs from project to project. For fiction picture books, I just need to know what manuscript I’m working on. For nonfiction picture books, I need an outline.

Stop in the Middle. Throughout July, I’ve been working on the same project, a cozy mystery tentatively titled Send in the Sopranos. I have written on this project each of the last 21 days. I’ve learned if I stop at the end of the scene it is hard for me to get started the next day.  I find myself waffling over where this new scene takes place and which characters are in.  If I stop in the middle of a scene? Then I can read the last few sentences and mentally drop back into the scene.  Soon the words are flowing.  Yes, some days this flow is a trickle but even that is something. 

Even if you can’t write every single day, these three techniques will help the words flow when you sit down to write. Yes, even the ritual, and I have a licorice-scented candle to prove it.


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 25 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  August 3, 2020) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins August 3, 2020). 


  1. Love that you have a candle--scent is a such a strong trigger! I think I'm gonna use chocolate cake on my desk. I mean the actual cake, not the candle. :-)

  2. Cathy-
    Chocolate Cake would get my attention!

  3. Sue--I also like the idea of a candle. If I'm lacking a candle, do you think sticking a can of Lysol under my nose and giving it an occasional squirt would have the same effect?

    (Stopping for the day in the middle of a scene is something that works for me.)

    If I followed Cathy Hall's advice, I'd never write... I'd just nibble on cake.

  4. Jeanine DeHoney10:04 AM

    Sue, I definitely will take advantage of suggestion number 3, Stop in the middle. Great suggestions. great article to get one's words flowing.

  5. Sioux,
    That's why I need the candle - inedible. I guess if you like Lysol...

    I hope your writing is flowing well! I made the mistake of stopping at the end of the scene yesterday. This morning I had a very creaky start.


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