You’re typing along, and the phone rings, and three hours later, you’re about to resume. How do you get your momentum back? Here are some tricks. Some will work for you, and some won’t.
1. When the phone rings, stop in the middle of the sentence you’re working on before you answer. When you restart, the rhythm and meaning of the half-sentence will propel you forward.
2. When you restart, read what you’ve already written aloud from the top. “Top” means the beginning of the unit you’re in: chapter, article, paragraph, etc. Reading aloud will get you back into the swing, but stopping to fix things will bounce you out of the flow.
3. My friend Steve Lovelady would inspire himself by typing a few paragraphs of someone else’s writing that he admired. He said he liked to see admirable sentences emerging from his typewriter platen. (A typewriter was an ancient device that used a keyboard to print letters directly onto paper.) Then he would type admirable sentences.
4. You may need to refresh your grasp of details, especially after a longer time lapse, by reviewing your notes for that section. This technique especially helps people who close their notes and write from memory.
5. Here’s the most extreme technique: erase from the top of the unit and start typing from there. Don’t even think about this method unless you’re decisive and have a terrific memory.
6. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you can guess how I restart. I ask my favorite question: “What’s this about?” I ask it about every half hour throughout my whole writing process anyway, and it refocuses me after a hiatus.
[How do you restart?]