Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Hardest Part of Writing

As I stare at the blank screen, wondering what to write... it came to me. I'll write about getting started. The wondering. The "What the crap have I got myself into? I'm not a writer!" The "I thought this was supposed to be easy!" The hardest part of writing is actually the getting started.

I rarely work from outlines. I know that some authors live and breathe and never deviate from them--and I do not begrudge anyone their writing-style-of-choice, but for me, I find them stifling. Sure, sometimes I'll write down some good ideas I want to remember and a little bit of an order for them. But most of the time when I'm writing, the story just takes off and I'm left typing as fast as I can just to keep up, and an outline would just get in the way. And usually my thoughts are so disjointed that sticking to a "script" just simply doesn't work.

So, you have a story that needs to come out, but you're wondering how to get started? What do you do with that blank computer screen?
The best way to start writing is to take an idea and go with it. Usually, all you need is a subject (for the sake of argument, let's just say Sally) and a verb (perhaps ran). Then just make something happen. Sally ran as fast as she could. The cold, dark alley, she found out too late, was a dead end. With nowhere to hide.... 

And I could go on, but I have a blog post to finish.

If you simply cannot think of a subject/verb combo, perhaps try writing down what we call "nonsense writing."
Just start writing whatever comes to mind, it doesn't have to make sense or even be coherent. It's just something to make the blank page seem not-so-blank. I'm sitting in bed trying desperately to get warm (stupid winter). Bono is sitting on the blanket staring at the wall. What is he staring at? He must not like it because his kitty ears are angry. Okay, it's 8:30, time for little boys to be in bed. 

If the subject/verb combo doesn't work, and nonsense writing just has you writing I'm staring at the walls over and over, try describing your last strange dream, and let the words just flow. Dreams are wonderful resources for story ideas. My latest novel, Karis, started as a dream I had after watching Batman Forever back in 1995 (yeah, I've been working on it for that long). My current project--a fantasy, which is a new genre for me--is loosely based on a dream I had recently.

But, the most important part of writing--and the hardest--is just starting. Even if your start has nothing to do with where you want to go with your story, just write. Write what you know, write what you want to know, write out of thin air. It doesn't even have to be good (you can fix that with your editor.) Just get started.

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