Put a Pin in It

When you’re writing and you come to something you don’t know — an historical fact, a plot twist that you haven’t worked out, a character you haven’t named — how do you deal with it?

Sometimes, I manage to skip * the unknown thing * and move on. If the flow of my writing is going well, I know that don’t want to break it. Rarely is *  the unknown thing * so important that it must be solved that very minute. I even keep a separate word processing document open when I write for my to do list. But other times, I convince myself, “This will just take a minute.” And inevitably, I emerge from Pope’s translation of The Iliad 40 minutes later with the perfect quote about grief and the waste of war. And also inevitably, my writing time for the morning is now coming to an end.

It is, in other words, amazing to me how many of my bad writing habits could be solved by simply doing the things that I know I should do.

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