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CDK Speer, PhD

On Writing Downhill

One especially helpful term that I’ve heard for creative writing is to “park your writing downhill”: never leave your writing at the end of a scene because it’ll be harder to start up from a dead stop. Instead, write a few lines into the next scene to give yourself somewhere to start. In the way that parking your car pointed downhill is easier than pointing uphill, giving yourself somewhere to start makes getting going easier.

And yet in blogging, I’ve always tasked myself with sitting down to write from a deadstart. Each time I went to write, I started in a blank document, the essay that seemed so clever in my mind needing to translate in its entirety to a finished project in one go. No wonder finding the time and energy to blog became more limited over the years.

What’s odd is that I rarely write like that in other contexts. While I do enjoy the phase of fiction and academic writing that is noodling on a topic until it becomes a meditative focus of my shower thoughts, both of those types of writing still usually involve at least simple outlines and multiple sessions. Both include future rounds of editing, time permitting.

And yet, for some reason, blogging had become a practice that required completing each essay all in one go, like popping a whole uncut roll of sushi in my mouth. A pleasant thing made unpleasant by form.

The good news is that, having recognized the mindset, this is an easy adjustment. I simply need to start drafts on topics as I think of them. So, I set out this morning to do this and, more than the content of this post, having started some of those draft documents is what was the most meaningful accomplishment of my morning. And with that simple Google Drive folder, I now look forward to moments of quick notes and outlines as well as writing that starts pointing downhill.


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