Tips to Keep Your Writing Moving Across the Page

Tips to Keep Your Writing Moving Across the Page

Linda Maria Steele

Linda Maria Steele is Adjunct Faculty at Dean College. She is the author of Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen and Tending the Marsh. She teaches a popular workshop called Finding the Writer Within. She lives in West Falmouth with her daughter Sophia. You can view more of her work at


Writers need tools to keep us productive and on task. The tools I’ve included here come from my Finding Writer Within workshop at various stages of the writing process.

Tool #1: Circle Phrases that Stand Out as Interesting or Important

Look again at something you’ve written and circle words or phrases that stand out to you. Choose words that have a certain energy or charge to them when you re-read them. Maybe it’s a phrase when you look back on at second glance, you know you have more to write on the topic. Choose one or more of those phrases and go deeper. From experience, it can feel like magic to witness the way your story evolves from this simple tool. Try this exercise the next time you are staring at a blank page.

Tool # 2: Write “What I Really Mean To Say Is..”

Recently, a student said she did not know what to write on the prompt I offered to the class. She said, “I feel stuck.” I suggested she simply write the phrase, “what I really mean to say on this topic is..” on the top of her page and give herself permission to get her thoughts down. I reminded her and you that we can always come back later to edit. Sometimes we simply need a way to keep going. The next time you  feel stuck in front of a blank page, pause and type the words, what I really mean to say is…” That simple phrase invites you to let go of whatever block you experience and keep moving forward on the page.  

Tool #3: Develop and Use Your Sixth Sense

The five basic senses are smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing. We are told to focus on our senses in our writing. They are based on our material experience of the world and allow us to perceive things that physically exist around us. When we use sensory details that describe our experience our writing becomes more vibrant and alive.

We also have a sixth sense, that is subtler. Your sixth sense is that gut level feeling, instinct or intuition that knows where you want your writing to go next. We are given a lot of direction and advice to constantly look outside of ourselves for answers, but the truth is when we look within, we begin to notice that everything we need is right there waiting for us to discover.  Next time you find yourself staring at the blank page check in with your sixth sense first, that inner knowing that can guide you to what you want to write next. Following your sixth sense is a skill that can be developed. Start to pay careful attention to your gut level response to things. For example, if there are ten topics to write about in front of you and you are not sure which one to choose. Look them over and let your gut feeling or inner knowing lead the way.