“We write for deadlines, money and the thrill of a new project. Don’t forget, however, it’s just as important that we write to be inspired and to inspire others.” — M.J. Stevens
Let’s face it, making the time and effort to sit down and write every day is one thing. But what are you supposed to do when you’re all ready, coffee in hand, and there is sweet F.A. coming out of your brain?
Not everyone can sit down and just write. If you can, you’re my hero.
More than 90% of the time those people pumping out their next story have been inspired to do so beforehand and are just working on ideas their brain has tucked away. I see a lot of great programs asking people to sit and write, just sit and write, get the words down…WRITE!
But hold the phone there, what if I have no ideas? I mean, what if you have “an idea” like boy meets girl on a trip to Paris, and then they do this and this, but when it comes to writing those first chapters, you’re blank?
Here are three things that might be able to help:
Get in the mood to write, and feel it.
I recommend music as a first step. (I recommend music as every step, but I won’t today I swear). Not everyone likes music while they write, but a bit of listening and breathing can help get the ideas flowing, even if you have to turn it off to write. I keep my headphones on, and if I’m writing something dramatic, I will often put a key piece on repeat.
Researchers have said that our brain waves react to waves of sound and almost start to mimic them. So if you’re sluggish, put on something with a fast beat and listen. It wakes you up.
If you’re feeling alert, but are still stuck then research songs that fit with the theme of the book. Start seeing your characters and picturing things in your mind. Chances are, something is going to begin to form, even if it’s just a quirky idea about how your protagonist has a little nose twitch or something.
Don’t be concerned with writing in order
I used to think that I had to sit down and write from chapter one down to chapter whatever. The problems I encountered were many, including not having enough ideas to get started, getting stuck at about chapter ten because I have no clue where the story is going to go, getting frustrated over little things, and editing my first draft way too much – up to the point where it drops off because you have no more words.
If you have an idea for a moment, sentence, glance, feeling or anything at all, write it down. Don’t let it pass or assume you will remember later. Phones these days are fantastic. You can make notes and then email them back to yourself for later; that’s what I do. When you get home, make sure you compile and write it into a safe place, like your manuscript or somewhere you keep notes so it’s not accidently deleted.
I have to start at the beginning… but that opening sentence…
If you must write from page one, or you’re keen to get that first line right (which you will inevitably change later anyway) go back through your book stash. Open all the books you can find the same genre as yours and see how they start. What’s their first line? How does the book lead in? Often we think more about how books end then how they begin, so take notice of how other authors are choosing to introduce their main characters to readers. This should give you an idea of how you’d like others to meet yours.
I hope this helps and good luck for NaNoWriMo!