My problem is that I keep thinking ahead to how the changes I’m making today are going to affect the next chapters. These are important things to think about, but not right now. Right now, I need to just write the one scene that will bridge me to the next, and to get me through it, I’m thinking of Anne Lamott’s amazing book “Bird by Bird” (if you have not read this, whether you are a writer or not, do so immediately).
When Lamott (or her students) is stuck, she pictures a 1″ picture frame and imagines that all she has to do is write the itty bitty part of the story that could fit in that frame. The idea is to keep narrowing in on your writing task until it becomes manageable. So, I’m not writing a chapter today. I’m writing one scene. And I don’t have to write the whole scene. I can write about how my protagonist gets into the room. I can even do nothing more than write the description of the box of tissues on the coffee table. Just the tissues. (Lamott’s example is writing about school lunches; she focuses only on the sandwich.)
Nine times out of ten, you’ll write that little bit, but won’t stop. You might find yourself frantically typing out the entire scene. Or not. The point is to get started. Because if the book is an entire album, it’s made up of a whole bunch of eensy weensy snapshots. Write one today. Write one tomorrow. Before you know it, it’s filled.