How do I get started?
Oh! The dreaded blank piece of paper!
This is one of the hardest challenges you can face as a writer. Staring down onto an empty page (or screen) is intimidating and knowing how to get your teeth into the piece is so tough. And the more you think about it the harder it seems to get.
Get started by brainstorming
A big mistake is to attempt to shape the document as you go. If you are worried about what goes where and how to organise thoughts you will stifle your creativity. Instead you should just start by filling that piece of paper with every idea in your head as your first step.
Ideas come more easily than a fully structured piece of text, so before you start, allow yourself time to get creative and let your mind wander. Ignore syntax and grammar, don’t try to make proper sentences, just write down anything you can think of in whatever order they come to you. And be comfortable to do it. Throw on your comfy pyjamas, sit on the floor, grab a cup of coffee and breathe!
Now let your imagination go to work.
Grab any ideas you have and record them in whatever way you feel is appropriate: jot them down on paper; type out a list; draw pictures; cover your house in post-it notes….
One of my clients, who specialises in drawing your future and her advice is to avoid neat lists which require you to think in orderly ways. In order to keep the brainstorming session as free as possible, dot the ideas around the page in whatever order or orientation feels most natural.
When you run out of ideas, take a break
Do this until you have taken every thought you want from your brain and transferred it to the paper. After this, leave the paper for a few days so your brain can carry on thinking through the ideas in the background. Expect strikes of inspiration to come at weird times – that’s fine, just keep writing them all down.
A new idea may cause you to change the concept for your piece of writing entirely, that’s perfectly fine, just start up a new piece of paper for that idea. You can come back to it later.
Crucially there’s no such thing as too many ideas, never feel guilty for brainstorming too much!
Your mission – should you choose to accept it
This week, your mission- should you choose to accept it- is to select one document, article or blog post that you want to write (especially if you’ve been putting it off!) , and get started by generating as many ideas as you can.
This brainstorm should be relaxed to allow your ideas to flow as they come to you. Crucially, don’t even think about how you are going to get the ideas down in the actual article. Try to turn that part of your brain off and just allow yourself to jot down concepts and random thoughts. Don’t pressure yourself to have every idea rigidly adhere to the theme of the piece of writing, you can sort that stuff out later. Even if it’s at a tangent or even irrelevant, write your thoughts down and see where they take you.
I’d love to see the results of your brainstorming session, so be sure to comment below or post on the Creative Words Facebook Page with your list of notes, or a photo of your drawings, or whatever else you used to record your ideas.