Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Mysterious XXXX

Ever been writing, words flowing on the page easily, when you come to a spot in the piece where the details get fuzzy, and you're not quite clear what you want to write, right there?  Maybe it's a name or a description, or just something that catches you off guard, and everything comes to a halt.  What do you do?  Do you stop and work it out or go to a source to research, breaking your momentum, but getting everything just right?

I'm going to let you in on my little secret.  Now, I didn't come up with this on my own.  I saw it in another author's writer tips, but it has served me well.

Here it is:  I don't stop for those time-stealers, and I don't waste time racking my brain for what to put there.  I use XXXX to mark the place, so I can come back to it later, and I keep moving forward.  But anyone who reads my draft and doesn't know what this is about might get the wrong idea, thinking that maybe the ring finger on my left hand sticks sometimes.  It doesn't, in case you were wondering.

When I read about this originally, I was skeptical.  I mean, shouldn't you try to get everything right the first time through, so that rewriting will be easier later?  Yes and no.  For me, if I tried to get it just right on the first draft, I would never write the words, "The End."  I have finished four drafts, and in my most recent ones, I used this technique.  Needless to say, they went much quicker, and I stuck with them more consistently.

And the funny thing was, when I did my document search, using XXXX as the search item, by the time I got back to that particular spot, my brain had often worked out what had tripped me up before, and the creative juices flowed to create a solution to my previous problem.

So, how about you?  How do you handle the dreaded halt in the flow of your thoughts?  Do you do something similar, or do you have to get it right in the moment before you can move on?

Happy Writing!

Don't forget to check out my other blog at:  http://www.cheriemarks.blogspot.com/


  1. I do this with names of secondary characters a lot. Rather than try to look up a name I'll only forget later, I put their description or title in brackets, like this: [Viscount's housekeeper] or [Water Guardian] and that way I know who I'm referring to and can just do a search for "[" later.

    This doesn't always work out, because sometimes I *do* have to stop and do the research in order to move forward. For example, in my paranormal, they're traveling all over the world and I needed to know where they stopped and what the terrain looked like. If I need to choose a new stop for them, then I also need to work out how long it will take them to get to the next destination and so forth.

    Unfortunately, that's blocked me at times and I'm still recovering from the latest one.

  2. Good advice Cherie! I tend to leave things if I'm really stuck and come back to it later.