A Song Without A Tune

Good Advice

“Write every day.”

It’s one of the basic tenets of the writing life: if you’re not writing, you’re not a writer, and you need to write every day to keep learning, to stay in touch with what you’re writing, and just to finish stuff. It also echoes the good practice of tackling big tasks a little at a time.

Bad Practice

What with one thing and another, I haven’t done much work on Song recently.

The problem with not touching a story every day is that you lose context: you forget the feel of the characters and the narrative in your head, then when you come back to it there is nothing to say. It’s not writer’s block, this emptiness – it’s disinterest.

How to reattach to the story, then?

Some ideas:

  • reread it – I’ve done this before in this drafting stage, before I dug in on act two. Maybe a reread is the right thing as I roll into act three also.
  • implement some notes – I’ve found some notes on things broken with the story, things like a new character invented for no good reason when there is more useful character to hand already. Fixing that kind of bug would reacquaint me with the narrative. This is the writerly equivalent of learning your way around a code base by fixing bugs.
  • skip time – I stopped writing when I was mired in a scene I don’t know how to bring to a conclusion. I could skip past that scene and write the next one I have something to say about. The skipped scene will still be written, just when the context is better embedded in my brain.

It’s not hopeless, of course. I really just need to spend some time with the story again.


I do write every day, just not always on the things that serve my long term goals. What with the day job, the demands of family life, and my irritating habit of accreting hobbies and projects I somehow end up with almost no time to spend on The Work, and those times are often the lowest quality: early in the morning, for example. I can be productive at 0500, but that productivity is fragile.

So, the reality is I need to figure out how to apply not just an amount of time, but time that is worth making use of.

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