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Tips-y Tuesday: a XXX Suggestion

Last week on Tips-y Tuesday we talked about what to do when Word’s blinking cursor is making you sweat on a blank page. Today we’ll go to the next step: what to do when Word’s blinking cursor is making you sweat in the middle of a sentence.

I love the feeling of getting “in the zone” when I’m writing. My fingers are flying, and my brain is whirring like the well-oiled machine I always wanted it to be. Before I know it I’ve typed a whole page, then another, and even sometimes, another.

But one thing that can plug up that beautiful brain-flow like a cork in a bottle is when you’re writing a sentence and you don’t know how to finish it. Maybe there’s a specific word you can’t think of, or maybe you just don’t know exactly what’s supposed to happen in that one scene, but the stuff that comes after is burning away in your mind.

Well before those fires go out, what I like to do is this: just type “XXX.”

I put in those three big letters, pretend like I wrote the most amazing and perfect thing ever, and then move on with the story.

That may sound like a cop-out, but I feel that the best way to waste time and drive yourself insane is to just sit there agonizing over how to finish a sentence. It’s amazing what our subconscious is capable of; I usually find that once I go back later to check out where I put the XXXs in, I immediately come up with something that fits and I wonder why I didn’t think of it earlier.

For a quick example, I might originally type something like this:

“Scott was trying to write when a crazy old man came XXX up to him.”

Hmm… I need a good word to describe how the man comes to me. “Strolling” is too boring, “shuffling” isn’t right… I’ll just put in XXX for now and come back later.

Once I’ve finished what I wanted for the day, I go back, look at where the XXXs were, and suddenly it would be a lot easier to come up with something to put in… like this:

“Scott was trying to write when a crazy old man came ambling up to him.”

Ooh, now that’s a nice verb! Glad I waited until later and didn’t just go with something lame like “slowly walking.” Eww.

Personally I just use XXX because it’s easy to type into the search in Word. You can use whatever you like, maybe INSERT_BRILLIANCE_HERE or DINOSAUR. But be careful if you’re actually writing a story about dinosaurs – you might accidentally think you need to go back and make a lot of changes.

(Featured image via GAHAG, edited by me)

Published inTipsy Tuesday

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