5 Ways to Start Writing

by Shelby Jones

The beginning is the hardest part — of anything. And you’re a writer, so putting your thoughts into action takes an immense amount of strength. If you already have your story idea, how do you begin writing it?

Here are five ways to start…

#1: Free writing

Write freely, unemotionally, and without much thought. You literally pick up a pen or open a Microsoft Word document and write whatever comes into your head. Don’t restrict yourself — just write what comes to you.

#2: Pick a topic

Choose a specific topic beforehand and keep within its limits, as this will set up the tone and theme of your work. These are the building blocks of the entire story; they’re still gritty and unpolished though, so don’t be afraid to write freely.

#3: Keep a journal

They say it takes 30 days to form a habit. So, let’s start with this. There are stories all around you, every day, so don’t restrict yourself to artistic wanderings. Write entries about your daily experiences.

#4: Make a topic plan

This is more structured, but you might prefer it. Plan what you’re going to write beforehand. To keep it simple at the beginning, you could pick a topic and do a mind map to decide what exactly you’re going to cover within that topic. Order the mind map with sub-topics as headings and write ideas underneath to keep everything organised.

#5: Make a book outline

This is even more structured. Rather than writing about a topic, you plan your book idea and start laying out your plot, sub-plots, characters, locations, etc. You might want to do this as a timeline or using post-it notes. Again, use headings and start writing content and ideas accordingly.

As you can see, these methods increase in structure (and arguably in difficulty, depending on your preference). You may wish to start with #1 and work your way up as you get more comfortable. The important thing is not to put too much pressure on yourself, because you can start to overthink and second-guess your ideas and writing. Don’t fall victim to perfectionism.

Writing is a muscle and the more you do it, the more natural it feels as the muscle grows stronger. The important thing is to just write, even if it’s about what breakfast cereal you’re eating. Start with the odd word or two. Write a full sentence about the weather. Exercise that writing muscle, and you’ll find you’re lifting a book soon.

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