Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How Do I Get Started Writing?

Whack a Few Writing Myths by Joyce Shafer

There’s all kinds of advice on how to write including:

You must write every day.
Write in the same designated spot at the same time every day.
Write for at least one hour every day.
Get up early several mornings or every morning to write.
You must have complete silence.
You must eat only blue M&Ms or no blue M&Ms, I forget which.

These bits of advice are not etched in stone I’m relieved to tell you. I choose to be intentional and passionate about writing, not monastic. I’ve written at all times of the day and night, and not every day (well, I do count emails which are excellent practice); on my sofa, at my desk, standing up on the subway; for five minutes and for ten hours at a stretch; with jackhammers and leaf-blowers making a racket outside my window (and a neighbor learning to play drums); and I don’t like losing sleep.

One problem with trying to follow a “One Way” rule is that, more than likely, it’s not the most appropriate way for you. If you don’t follow the rule(s), you get into self-judgment. Then you’re so busy thinking and feeling bad about yourself, you’re not taking the action that will create your desired outcome. If you’re committed to writing, nothing and no one will stop you.

If you don’t know how to get started, start anywhere. Seriously. For fiction, if you have the ending, start there. The beginning and middle will come to you. If you’re writing non-fiction, make a list of what you plan to cover. You can write about any item on your list when you feel inspired to do it, or any section or chapter you want to focus on.

Coaching questions:

If you haven’t started, what’s stopping you?
What might you do to take the first step?
What’s the next step after the first? And the next?
Would it be nice if you were a published writer or do you intend to become one no matter what?

Exercise: Write a page about anything, even if all you write is, “This is stupid. I don’t know what to write. If I knew what to write, I’d be writing.” This will ignite your ability to just get going.
Article partially excerpted from Write, Get Published, and Promote: An Easy e-Guide for New and Aspiring Writers by Joyce Shafer (author/freelance services for writers). Get a discount at http://www.freewebs.com/writegetpublishedandpromote

1 comment:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I find that fear stops people. In the Frugal Editor I suggest that people not worry about editing. I know, it sounds as if I am talking myself out of a sale. But the idea is to start and finish. Don't go back and rework the first chapter 15 times every time you hear something new about great first chapters. Just get started and go straight through. Let the big C-juices flow! When you're done, read the The Frugal Editor. It will do wonders for your query letters when you start to shop your book, too. (-:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers

PS: A good coach or critique group can help, too!