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Having Trouble Starting a Writing Project? - Just Start!

Starting may be the only solution!

I recently started a new ghostwriting project. After I'd spent time reading the provided material and creating  both a purpose and a working table of contents with the client, it became time to start writing.

I had some real reluctance to begin. This often happens to me. Sometimes I think it's laziness; sometimes I think it's actually part of the creative process, part of the yeasting that goes on in our unconscious.

Although I basically trust my process, I usually indulge in some excuse making. You may even recognize some of my less than positive self-talk that kept me from the computer for a couple of days. It included:

  • I think we ought to do the book differently - absolutely true, but it's not my decision. I can advice, recommend, but since I'm the ghost, the author gets to decide. And the truth is, his way isn't bad.
  • I don't know how to do it this way. Okay, I had to change my thinking and that did require a bit of pacing around, but it's totally doable.
  • I don't agree with the author on a couple of other issues... issues that are major points in the book. Guess what? I don't have to agree. I do, however, get over the notion I know best. It's his book, not mine. My only real question is can I write it that way? And the answer is yes.
  • I don't know how to start... ah, this is familiar.

Put some words on paper

When I look back, I realize I rarely know exactly how I want to start a piece of writing. I also know that it's not unusual to throw out the first couple of sentences or paragraphs as the work develops. Lord knows, when I was editing magazines and news papers, I often threw out introductory material.

But if I don't start putting words on paper... or on the screen, there won't be any poor stuff to throw out, or good stuff to keep.

Open a new document

As silly as it seems, starting may be a simple as opening a new document; if you save it right away, you'll have to think of a file name and that may be enough to get you going.

If not, give the new document a title... a working title. Something that sums up what this work will be about. It doesn't have to be a good title - that can come later. Just get something down.

Now, write!

Start writing. Don't worry about great opening lines, get something down. Get a first line written down even if it's something silly and dumb like "This book is about... (fill in the blank.) Then write another sentence, and another.

No editing or rereading allowed at this point. Your goal, in this initial session, is simply to fill up a page or two - say 400-500 words double spaced.

If you run into problems, note them in [bracket] so you can find them easily and keep writing.

Chances are, by the time you get toward the bottom of the second page, or the top of the third, you'll know where you going. Take a break - make a phone call or fix a second cup of coffee. Go away from the writing for five or 10 minutes.

Now, come back and read what you've written. Do some gentle editing if you must, but nothing too serious at this point.

Chances are you'll discover you've written yourself on track. You'll know what you need to write next. You can keep writing for an hour or so at this point, or quit on that project for the day, knowing you'll be just fine because you've actually gotten started.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, Freelance Writer




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Email Anne: Anne@AboutFreelanceWriting.com

Learn about Anne - she writes, she coaches, and she ghostwrites:  www.annewayman.com

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Copyright 2004 - 2008 Anne Wayman