The flashlight technique

When working on a long piece of writing (say more than five double-spaced pages), it can be difficult to see the whole project at one time. In such situations, it may seem like your brain is a box that is overflowing. It can only hold so much.

One solution is to apply what I’ve come to call the “flashlight technique.”

It’s based on the idea that, in some ways, writing is like walking down a dark road at night while carrying a flashlight. You can see only so far ahead. Now that may seem like a problem, if you think you should be able to see the whole project clearly before proceeding. But, often, writing isn’t like that. It’s written bit by bit. Write as far as you can see — over and over again.

How do you work on long pieces? By outlining the whole thing ahead of time? Breaking it into sections, scenes or chapters? Or maybe you’re one of those fortunate individuals who can envision the entire project in your head.

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