Writing Minute by Minute

In the theory assignment for their qualification, my students have to answer set questions on the practice and principles of assessment.

The questions are clearly stated for each unit section and subsection. The evidence they need to produce in their answers is itemized in the course handbook.

All they have to do is put the questions and answers together. Can they do it? No.

The excuses seem valid--not enough time, too many interruptions, inability to cope with work, home and family as well as compiling a portfolio for a qualification. The deadline looms and deadlock hits the brain.

To solve the problem, I copied each question into a Word file leaving a suitable boxed space for them to type in an answer. In that space I printed the keywords they need to incorporate.

Each week I shall send one unit. In eight weeks, the course will be completed--just in time for the exam board to  accredit their qualification.

Confine  Your Writing                      

A foolproof way for writers struggling with time and/or family constraints to complete a full-length work is obviously to divide it into sections.

But these need not be chapters. Try confining yourself to paragraphs or even sentences. Give your ideas time to percolate. 

Whether you're struggling with a short story, a newspaper article, a novella or even a novel--divide it into sections.

Novels up until the mid-twentieth century often had little summaries to preface each chapter.

image from classroom clipart.com

Chapter One
In which Mistress Craddock finds the flower garden besieged by cows and her sympathies sorely tried...

For a writer starting out or one stuck for ideas, this is a fun way to let the ideas talk for themselves.

Start as always with the inciting incident. What starts the action rolling? Then let the journalist's mantra take hold.

Who, what, when, where, why and how. The order in which you choose to answer these questions is what gives your unique twist to the tale.

Back to Mistress Craddock. Who was responsible for letting the cows escape? Why was it so trying for her at this particular time? How will her problems be resolved?

Pop in your keywords. Each question can be answered with another until bit by bit you've constructed a completed work. Ten minutes a day can still produce great stories, great writing.

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she shares hopefully helpful, writing, editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers relatively regularly. 


Debbie A Byrne said...

Good points!

Anne Duguid Knol said...


Anne Duguid Knol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Love this. Bit by bit does it.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Excited about Magdalena Ball’s and my new Sublime Planet poetry book released to celebrate Earth Day coming in April. The e-book is on Amazon in the US (http://bitly.com/EarthDayKind) in Europe and Japan, too. It's also available in paperback to be used as a gift for the tree huggers you know. All proceeds for that benefit the World Wild Life Fund.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Thanks,Carolyn,but I do wish I wrote bigger bits at a time...

Karen Cioffi said...

Annie, this is such useful information. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed looking at the 'whole.' Breaking it into bite-sized sections can take the pressure off.

Magdalena Ball said...

Classic 'how to eat an elephant' advice Annie, and one which always works (and is particularly valid for large works like a novel). Thanks for the reminder!

Shirley Corder said...

Annie, thanks for the reminder to break assignments into small sections.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great advice. Step by step in small chunks. Works for writing and other goals.

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