There’s a problem I’ve experienced as a writer sometimes that just knocks me on my back. Mind you, I can plot, draft, write and create. I carve out time to write. I’ve created a little space for my books and my papers. I’ve learned to draft manuscripts on the train, to use my phone for making notes and jotting down ideas. I have a nifty new keyboard for my iPad. I’ve even discovered the charm of the Yonkers Will Public Library for its blissfully silent study tables.
But, every once in a while, right in the middle of things, I get stuck. That one word, the one fact I was so sure I knew, escapes me. It’s right there, ready to be typed and, at the same time, out of sight.
I’m frozen. Stuck. My dream of being A Productive Writer is smashed at my feet, at least for the moment. And, frankly, I’m a little pissed.
However, I’m blessed to know (and be married to) a very clever writer, who makes his living writing. And has met deadlines for nearly thirty years. Who also has his moments of grasping for a word, a phrase, or an idea.
Here’s the idea: You type along, thinking good thoughts, getting into the groove of your writing, and suddenly you’re not sure what the next word is supposed to be. Peter (aka Word God for this post) types “bagel” and continues writing. Since his non-fiction work is science writing, and bagels have never figured in any of his published science articles, “bagel” is his preferred word for “silly me, not able to think of that just now.” When he’s ready to revise, he also cleans up the “bagels” and gives himself the time to think of the proper word or phrase.
I’ve started using it myself in my work, and it’s marvelously freeing. “Bagel” allows me to keep working. It’s a funny, cute, small way to acknowledge that a draft isn’t intended to be perfect right out of the box. I’m able to forgive myself for not knowing the word and move on.
Just this past week, I used it when I saw a hole in my plot. “Bagel”, I typed. “Insert sex scene here.”
Dang, that’s a lot of bagels.
Peter Andrews writes the How to Write Fast blog at www.howtowritefast.blogspot.com. He has a hundred tips like this one for the WannaBeProductive writer and will be featured on April 29 in a Waterworld Mermaid Guy Day interview.