WRITING TIP: Surprise yourself

writing tipsAn encounter with the unexpected wakes us up, whether in writing or in life. Allow your writing to surprise you by focusing closely on something small at the start — an insect on the table, the twitch over someone’s eye, a sound you don’t recognize — and let that little thing tell you where to go next without thought or plan for where you’ll end up. As Anne Lamott put it in Bird by Bird, “Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t — and, in fact, you’re not supposed to — know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”