Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Beauty of the Bullet Point

Jane Yolen rocks. 

You are a writer. You have goals. For instance, you have committed to writing a:

  • Blog post
  • Short Story
  • Long Story
  • Magazine Article
  • Pretty much anything with a deadline (either real or imagined)

You are aware, above all, that writers write, so you know you need to get started. But there's all kinds of things preventing you from doing so.

Things like:

  • You have convinced yourself that in order to sit down and write, you need at least an hour. Or six. Why even start, you mutter to yourself, when you know you'll just have to get up before you're finished?
  • You're tired. Mentally, physically, emotionally, you're feeling drained, and taking the time to write anything sounds overwhelming right now. 
  • You haven't decided on your subject. Will your next blog post be a how-to or an inspiring anecdote? Will the main character in your novel be a thief or a musician? Or both? You obviously can't start until you decide these key elements!
  • Insert your own personalized excuse here. The one that keeps you from putting your butt in a chair and your fingers on a keyboard. We all have one. What's yours?

Yes, my friends, these are excuses. Sneaky, lazy, tired excuses. I know because I use all of them all the time. My solution?

Your new best friend: The Bullet Point. 

Release yourself from any pressure. If you have ten minutes, you can make a bullet-point list. Sit down at your computer and type up a bullet point brainstorm. Just make a quick, haphazard, unedited list of your ideas for whatever writing you've committed to. Try it right now: Three Bullet Points. They could be three topics you're interested in, three points you want to make, three ideas for your character--literally three of anything related to the piece you need to write. These come with a wide array of benefits, including:

  • No excuses can conquer them. There's no pressure to be good, to be long, to be funny, to be anything but written down. 
  • They will make you much more prepared for your next writing session. When you come back later, you'll have somewhere to start. You'll have a list. You can expand on those bullet points, choose one to focus on, or discover an opened floodgate of ideas that come from revisiting these old notes. 
  • They get you in the chair, and you might be surprised what happens once you start. Sure, you sit down with no pressure and no intention to produce anything besides a quick list. But somehow this exercise has an uncanny way of getting your creative juices flowing. You may leave with a lot more content than you bargained for. 
  • Lists are easy to show to a reader, editor, friend, or any person who supports your writing--and showing them your ideas might start a conversation that gives you even more food for thought. 

The Bullet Point: Simple, quick, undemanding, and often encouraging. 

No excuses. Keep writing. 

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