Are you struggling to tell a story? Maybe, like me, you’re thinking of tackling the National Novel Writing Month challenge but aren’t sure you could even begin – you don’t know what to write.
I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I love dreaming of stories to tell and places to share. I hate sitting down to put it on paper. My brain moves much faster than my fingers. And then there is the pesky distractibility gene: Was Gizmo barking? Did I finish laundry? What’s for supper tonight? You get my point.
It’s easy to create the idea. It’s easy once I get started typing. It can be so hard to get started. Fortunately these four “tips” ease me into writing:
- Type whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t even have to be what I meant to say! I always overthink the first sentence. I immediately feel pressure: it has to be witty! It has to set the tone! It has to build suspense! Of course the first sentence matters. It just doesn’t matter in the first draft. Sometimes I start with a thought or plot point that won’t matter until the middle. It’s a starting point. If that’s what is stuck in my head then I need to get it on paper in order to unblock the rest. Technology is our best friend. We can move the cursor back to the top and restart.
- There’s a “delete” button for a reason. Once I finish typing what comes to mind, I edit. I can always delete anything that doesn’t fit. I can highlight and move sentences around. If I have to delete a few dozen bad puns and cheesy analogies, so be it.
- The written product can be anything. There isn’t a rule that says I have to write a specific genre, style, length, or media. Writing is for me. My mind may have crafted a lovely Hallmark-style romance, but I find my heart is in need of an outlet for anxieties or to share encouragement. I may need to capture memories or encourage others to embark on an adventure. It’s harder to write if you limit your content. It’s also ok to start more than one piece at a time.
- Finally, create a space and a time. Remember that distractibility I mentioned earlier? I can’t always slow the mental meandering, but I can reduce my environmental stimuli. I take care of the pup before I settle in. I can turn off the TV or turn on low music. I often have a cup of hot tea and a blanket for inside or water and an umbrella if I’m writing outside. I schedule a time in my day when I know my family has other plans. I may set a timer. It’s easier to refocus when I know I can have a break in 15 minutes or so.
It isn’t long before words flow onto a Word doc when I keep these in mind. It doesn’t matter if I ever share them with anyone. It’s both escapism and therapy for me. I can’t benefit from it if I don’t ever start. Make the commitment to yourself today, pick a date and time, set up your space, and just type whatever is on your mind. You’ll never regret it.
Looking for more writing inspiration? Check out these other offerings from the MockingOwls.
- Paranormal Writing Prompt
- Using Landscape for Inspiration
- Science Fiction Writing Prompt
- Writing Exercises to Try When You Get Stuck
- When You Need a Break But Can’t Take One
- Free Resources for Writers
Katie Daniels is a speech language pathologist in Florida, where she resides with her husband and their pup-child. She has dabbled in professional and personal writing over the years, but only recently began sharing her work with others. She is a proud Florida kid who enjoys meeting new people, seeing new places, and all things related to laughter, travel, faith, Disney, reading, and F.S.U. football. She is easily bribed with donuts or mac ‘n cheese.
She would love to connect on Instagram.