This is may sound obvious to some, but it was super helpful when I discovered this little tip.
You know when you’re in the middle of writing and you know there’s a better word, but it’s just not coming to you.
So you stop writing, start consulting thesauruses and even when you’re successful you come back to the page and find the magic is gone. The flow has been lost.
But what could you have done? If you didn’t have the word, you didn’t have the word, no?
Honey, the show must go on, and forget about adlibbing and making do, just skip it and put a placeholder instead.
What’s a placeholder you ask? Well, just look at the word; it holds your place, so you know to come back to it.
There are a few ways you can do this.
Either you can choose one word, I like to use BLAH, and anytime I can’t come up with the word, I just write BLAH and when I’m done I do a find search on my word processor and go through each BLAH slowly and find the right word or phrase for it then. It’s much easier to do when everything else has been filled in.
Another way to do it is to write approximations of what you’re looking for, put it in caps and highlight it, so again, it’s easy to find at the end.
A placeholder in this case might read like DESCRIBE GREEN DRESS or METAPHOR HERE. With these placeholders I know more specifically what I want to insert, but it doesn’t have the convenience of using the find feature.
This can also work well if you’re not sure about what you want to name your character, or a place. Don’t sweat it, just come back to it later. by picking any name, preferably one with a simple fool-proof spelling like Jane (Don’t do Sarah or Rachel, because sometimes you might forget and write it Sara or Rachael) and at the end of your story, when you have time to sit and figure out the perfect name for your protagonist, just do a simple Find and Replace function in your word processor. Problem solved.
I know some of you are thinking, seriously? This is her big tip? What’s the big deal if I take a few minutes and sweat over my writing, isn’t it supposed to be hard?
Remember that word I used before - flow, that I said would be interrupted if you stopped?
It wasn’t just a nice word. Flow is a term coined by psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It refers to the happiness a person attains when s/he are in a state of concentrated activity where nothing else matters and time feels irrelevant. You know what I’m talking about, the times where writing isn’t hard, it’s magical.
The thing with flow is that it takes steps to enter it, and more to maintain it, it’s not something a person can just move in and out of. When a person is distracted it takes on average 23 minutes to get back on task.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have enough 23 minute intervals in the day to afford getting distracted for every tip of the tongue word; ergo. placeholders.
If you want to learn more about FLOW and how it can help your creative process, check the book out here.
(Disclaimer: I do receive an itty-bitty commission if you purchase the book through my link.)