Writing Question: Getting Started

I found this question left by Anonymous in my quarantined box:

I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your
thoughts prior to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my mind
in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems
like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to
figure out how to begin.

Any ideas or tips?

And thought it was a likely sort of question, with a relatively quick answer, so here it is:

1. I try to stop at an exciting part of a scene, so that when I open it, I am either eager to begin, or I at least know what sentence to write next. (Because not knowing what to write next is often a source of inertia.)

2. If the part of the story I was working on was so exciting I rode that wave all the way to a lull between exciting moments, I will get back into the right headspace by re-reading the previous scene. (This is useful in that you can tidy up typos and bothersome things as you read; just don’t get too bogged down in it. Think ‘quick wind brushing away detritus’ not ‘slow seeping lava remaking everything.’)

3. If I am just starting a story and there’s no exciting bit to continue–and I am also not excited about writing down the first scene–then I know I have the wrong first scene.

4. If I know I have the right first scene, and I am still not excited, I think about the scene behind it that’s supposed to be exciting and write toward it.

5. Finally, if none of that works, I tell myself that I can write a single sentence and be done. Writing a sentence isn’t hard. I look at my email and observe I have written more than one, and very quickly, so why can’t I just write a single sentence? It doesn’t have to be brilliant, just serviceable. Once I have written a sentence, I think, “Well, then. How about a paragraph? You can do a paragraph. It doesn’t have to be a long one.” By the time I’ve got a page in, I don’t have to talk myself into the next part. As you’ve observed, Anonymous, it’s overcoming the initial inertia that’s often the hard bit.

Sometimes all of that fails, of course, and then I take the day off. Even I take days off, now and then. >.>

Anyway, I hope that helps! And bring me your other questions, I’m happy to oblige. :)

Leave a Comment


NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>