Make Time to Write, Part 4: Leave Yourself Hanging

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If you’re like a lot of writers, you waste a huge portion of your writing time thinking about where to begin writing, or how to pick up where you left off yesterday. Here’s a writing hack to make that easier, courtesy of Ernest Hemingway:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.

For fiction writers, this advice is pretty clear—stop when things are still juicy, in the middle of a sentence, if you must. For non-fiction writers, I’d paraphrase his words thusly:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what point you will make next. If you do that every day when you are researching, annotating or writing, you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it, or at least, get it on tape.

In non-fiction, the art of picking up quickly (and not wasting time at your writing desk) has more to do with stepping back into the flow of ideas that carried you along to your ending point yesterday. It’s easier to do that if the stream hasn’t completely dried up.

For more ways to make time to write, check out part 1 (Six Ways to Get Up with an Alarm), part 2 (Use Evernote to Write Anywhere) and part 3 (Fit It in Around a Full-Time Life).