Years ago, in a UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Workshop, I learned a technique called “bookending.” It’s a simple practice designed to keep one writing. The idea is to call someone, preferably a writing buddy, and to tell him or her that you’re going to write. Give as much information as you feel is necessary: how long you plan to write, what you plan to write about, where you plan to write, etc. Then, go write.
When you’ve finished writing, call your writing buddy again to tell him or her that you’ve written. Again, you can provide whatever detail seems appropriate or none at all. It’s okay to leave a voice mail message with the same information. You don’t actually have to talk to a real person. The act of stating to another person or to his or her answering machine that you’re going to write is what’s import. Telling someone makes it real, makes it a commitment.
Today, you don’t have to leave a voice mail. You could send an email or text message. You can even post a “tweet” on Twitter. Or, post an update on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, whatever. Just to do it.
I’ve discovered that blogging accomplishes the same purpose—for me, at least. Having a progress meter showing that I am writing is an incentive. It doesn’t matter if anyone else in the world sees it or pays attention to it. What’s important is that I know it’s there.
Bookends. They’re not just book props.