There’s a simple little practice many writers I know use (including myself) to keep them moving forward when grinding out their first draft. It’s painless and almost always effective at keeping you eager to return to the work tomorrow to pick up where you left off today.

The secret is to as much as possible always stop work for the day when you’re feeling good about what you’ve accomplished and when you knowing exactly where you’ll be resuming at your next session. In other words, don’t ever walk away when you’re lost or frustrated with your daily progress  –that’s a sure bet that you won’t be thrilled to return to the work and you’ll have a hard time sitting back down and having that problem staring you in the face. 

I like what playwright David Ives told me about this regarding a couple of master writers:  “John O’Hara used to stop writing every day in the middle of a sentence so that the next day he could continue that sentence and have a springboard, a way in.  Hemingway said you should always stop when you know where you’re going–and never stop when you don’t know what’s next because you’ll be lost.”

A simple practice, but don’t we need all the help we can muster?

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I’m the Program Director of the low-residency MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen being offered by the New Hampshire Institute of Art.  Our last residency ran from June 22 to July 1 and we’re current considering applications for starting the program next January at our residency scheduled for January 5-14, 2018.  If you’re interested in finding out more about our program, email me at and we can start a dialogue.

I’m also a playwright and screenwriter, producing partner in my production company Either/Or Films (The Sensation of Sight and Only Daughter) a professional script consultant, and the author of The Playwright’s Process.  You can follow me on Twitter @eitherorfilms or @mfastagescreen.  I’m also on Facebook at buzzmclaughlinscriptconsulting.