The Secret of How to Start Writing

I've begun a series of occasional writing tips over on my Facebook Author Page.
Here's the text of the latest, which I hope you'll enjoy.
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
This quote, variously attributed to Mark Twain, Agatha Christie and Anon,often appears as Number #1 in lists of Top Writers' Tips. It's true, of course, but for many of us it simply isn't helpful. Because getting started can be difficult, and emphasising what's difficult isn't always the the best way to get ahead.

When I was at drama school, I learned a wonderful lesson from a voice teacher. Don't try hard, try soft. Trying hard implies tension. You grit your teeth and square up to a challenge. You stick out your jaw and clench your fists and tell yourself that nothing and no one will keep you from reaching your goal. Trying hard may get your adrenaline flowing but, equally, it can impede your creative flow. 

As always, different things work for different writers. Some people find that sitting down and requiring oneself to write is the best way to begin. For others, that just isn't helpful - so much energy is channeled into 'discipline' that there's none left for getting in touch with what you have to say.

So here are four ways to begin by trying soft:

1/ Don't set yourself a regimen: write at different times of day and in different places. 

2/ Forget about word count: use pages of different sizes on different occasions, so you're less conscious of how much you've written in any one session.

3/ Allow yourself displacement activity: sometimes going for a walk or doing the ironing is the gentlest way of allowing your mind to gather the thoughts and ideas about which you want to write.

4/ Imagine your way through a paragraph, shaping the sentences in your mind and speaking them aloud till you have too many to remember, and you find yourself longing to write them down. 

And if you find that you can't begin to write no matter how soft or hard you try, be kind to yourself. Remember that if you don't live, you'll have nothing to write about. So give yourself a break. Literally. Time spent panicking in front of a blank screen or an empty page is time wasted. Get up and live instead.


Popular posts from this blog

St. Bridget's Day in Ireland

Danny Sheehy: Loss of a Voyager.