Parking on the downhill

I was reminded last week of a little piece of good advice about writing: Always park on the downhill.

The message is, don't round your writing off neatly before calling it a night. That may make it difficult for you to pick up the thread of your piece when you go back to it the following day. Instead of hitting the keyboard, you spend ages mulling over what the next bit is supposed to be and how to go about writing it.

Instead you should leave your work knowing exactly what the next sentence will be, allowing you to dive straight back in and get working without all that faffing about.

It's good advice, and advice that I usually try to stick to. The end of my work in progress is usually littered with a bunch of scraps: dialogue or narrative bits that I want to use for tomorrow's work. The process has only one small problem. It doesn't always work.

Yes it's always good to pick up your manuscript and hoe into it without delay. But sometimes that process only postpones an inevitable bout of faffing when you finally hit a section that you're unsure about. All the rough sketches and handwritten notes in the world don't prevent one of those coming on, regardless of when in your writing day it occurs.

The bit I'm working on now requires a fair bit of craftsmanship, possibly beyond my abilities in a first draft. Right now it just feels like hack work, hardly the intellectually stimulating and inspirational stuff one might imagine fiction writing to be. It's all a bit like wading through mud until you pass through it and spring into the next section that you have worked out far better.

That's the theory.

Regardless though I'll likely still park on that downhill again tonight. Old habits and all.