Using Word Highlight Colours to Help Writer’s Block

When I’m in flow state I don’t want to stop for details. I don’t want to disrupt the flow. So  I use Word highlight colours and a colour code to highlight anything I want to get back to. Then I keep on writing. Later when I get to editing, revising or research,  I can see specific writing I wanted to deal with. Highlighted. It’s also great for writer’s block. If plot ideas aren’t happening, I use my colour code to find spots in  my manuscript to edit or research until inspiration returns.

EDITING

Is it spelled right? Is it consistent with other usage in the story? Do I need to fix the grammar?

REVISING

Is there a better word? A better way to express something? Do I want to change a name or add a detail?

RESEARCH

I don’t want to switch to research mode. Green marks the spot. I keep on writing. I can do the research and fill things in later.

I like this writing highlights technique. It makes it easy to see specific writing I want to get back to. Making it stand out from the rest of the text. I picked yellow, blue and green because they’re fairly translucent and don’t hide the text too much. I use other highlight colours as needed e.g. bright pink to mark my progress on a manuscript.

It’s a very simple system. I know it wouldn’t work for everyone. But if you want to keep with the writing flow, mark a word or passage with highlighting for later, and keep on writing, I find it helpful for keeping my concentration on the story line and not the details. When writer’s block gets in the way of actual story telling, it’s easy to find highlighted text by colour and still ‘write’; working on specific edits or research depending on my mood.

Or I switch to blogging, social media content planning or just take a break while ideas percolate. There are always cookies to bake and deadheading to be done.

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Jan L. Mayes MSc writes horror fiction and non-fiction, and is an international Eric Hoffer Award winning author, blogger and audiologist specializing in noise, tinnitus-hyperacusis, hearing health education and plotting murders. Her writing has been featured at Tinnitus Today, Communique, silencity.com and The Horror News Daily.