When people (especially those who want to get into writing) ask me about my job, there is always one question coming up: How the heck do you get started. The famous 'blank page' and the blinking cursor seem to be the ultimate nightmare for almost every writer. But to be honest, I really do wonder why.
I love starting a new book, a new chapter, a new .... whatever. A blank page is just as tempting to me as the surface of a swimming pool: it makes me want to be the first to jump in. I'm not a big fan of crowded swimming pools. But if there is no one around and the surface looks like a blue mirror - man! I just can't hepl it. It want to dive into that page.
Infact, I have many more first pages of stories than I have stories. And you won't find any notebook in my desk with a white first page in it. I just scribble on all of them. But maybe that is just me, and you don't see the swimming pool in your word document. Maybe the blinking cursor is a threat for you. Then here is five tipps to help you:
1. Stop thinking in letters.
When you have a story to tell to a friend, I bet you don't stand around for an hour and mumble words that don't seem quite right. You would just tell the story, starting whereever it makes sense. Maybe you want to start with an explanation of the set-up or the people that you are talking about. Or maybe you want to jump right into the story, because there is no need to explain anything. I like to imagine that my friend is about to leave, but there is this one last thing that I really, really need to tell her. I would have to make it quick, intriguing my friend in a way that would make her stop right on the door step. Because listening to my story is more important than leaving. This trick works for everything, be it the beginning of an email or a long novel.
2. It sometimes is snippets before it's a story line.
Writing for me doesn't always go linear. Infact, I'm writing what I want to tell and then often mash up the whole thing before puzzling it togehter in a different way.
In RUNA, for example, the first chapter hasn't been the first chapter right from the beginning. And I also didn't have a prolog. It showed up somewhere in the middle of the writing process, and I was like: Uuuuh, well you would make a nice start of my book! So I put it there. Having that freedom for me is a huge advantage over speaking. And it makes it much easier to get started, too.
3. Don't be overcritical. (At least not now.)
Your first aim is to get the words down. So don't be your own editor right from the start. Once the text is there, you have plenty of time to go through it again and again (like thirty times if it is me) and change everything you don't like. But you cannot cut a bush that didn't even grow, yet.
4. Choose a noun and play with it.
This is something I like to do for short stories, but it works for the beginning of texts as well. You just randomly pick a word from an enzyclopedia or any kind of book. Just open the book with your eyes closed and tap on a page. If your index finger hits a noun, it is yours! Don't be picky. This is not about choosing. For me, the best sentecnes sometimes evolve from the most absurd noun.
5. Uninstall Microsoft Word.
Okay, so maybe you don't want to uninstall it, or you won't be able to open any email attachment ending on ".docx" anymore. (I actually am at that point).
But at least, I wouldn't reccomend using Word for your story. There is real good softwares out there, made especially for writers. I use Scrivener, for example, and I absolutely love it! I can create characters and give them faces. And it also allows me to list all my chapters and save my research results right in the project, which means that I don't get lost in documents.
You can download it for Mac and Windows. It's not for free, but I think it's worth the price - and if you are a student, you get it a little cheaper. For me, this program was a game changer. I'm a very visual person, so all my characters have a body and face. It's just a little playful thing. But if writing feels like playing, you will enjoy much more to sit down and get started, rather than gazing at a blinking cursor.