Getting Started

You can write just about anyway, but for most people, the trick is getting started. Here are some tips.

Who will teach me to write?  a reader wanted to know.
The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of
eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right
and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly,
ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging
that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless,
because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which
you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page of
your death, against which yo pit such flawed excellences as you can
muster with all your life’s strength; that page will teach you to write.
There is another way of saying this.  Aim for the chopping block.
If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing.  Aim past the wood, aim
through the wood; aim for the chopping block.
— Annie Dilliard, The Writing Life

  • Pick a regular time and place to write — it can be 10 minutes when you wake up or before bed, one hour each Thursday afternoon at a local coffee shop, every Monday night at the library, or whatever IMG_5021else works for you. Having a regular place to go to write — even if it’s just a certain chair in your house or on your porch — will help reinforce the writing: everytime you sit there, you’ll be reminded this is your writing spot, which can help get the writing flowing.
  • Aim for just short stretches. You can write quite a bit in 10 or 15 minutes, and writing for that length of time isn’t so daunting when you’re not feeling particularly inspired.
  • Or aim for a certain length — you might decide you’ll write at least two sentences or fill half a page every three days.
  • Make writing dates with others — it’s a lot like workout dates: when the other person shows up, even if you didn’t feel like jogging or biking, you’re more apt to do it in the presence of others who depend on you. Meet at a home, coffee shop, restaurant, park, favorite bluff or wherever else suits you. You can each bring one writing exercise to try out together.
  • You can also find lots of writing resources at the Transformative Language Arts Resource Page. Look under “expressive and creative writing” for great books. My favorites are Deena Metzger’s Writing From Your Life, Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and John Lee’s Writing From the Body.
  • Keeping a running list in your journal, on a pad or in your computer of writing ideas.
  • If you stop for a while, start again. The page is always waiting for you.