OK, so there you are with the plan you’ve made for your National Novel Writing Month story – all 50,000 words of it. You sit down at the computer. And –
What now? That winking cursor and blank page isn’t going to go away by itself.
NaNoWriMo isn’t really about word count – it’s all about output to time. That’s a basic skill any professional writer must learn – and learn early – if they are to be successful.
Sticking on starting is also normal. It happens to writers a lot. And there are ways around it. Why not try:
- Look at the plan. You – er – did write a plan…didn’t you? Is there a place you could start writing other than the first page? Chapter Two for instance.
- This technique works at any level. Stuck on the first words? Leave a blank space for the first sentence or two. Start half-way through the first paragraph. Then back-fill, later.
- Write the last paragraph of the book, first? This has all sorts of advantages of itself, not least being that you know where you are going.
- If you’re still stuck, write something else totally different – a blog post, an email. Anything. Just as a quick draft, maybe for 10 minutes. Then go back to your NaNo book.
- If you’re really, really stuck, start anyway. Write anything that sort of expresses what you want as your first sentence. It doesn’t have to be artistic. You can always change it later. Hey – that’s what word processors are for. This is the brute force method, and it’s one journalists sometimes fall back on when deadlines press.
A lot of the problem with getting ‘stuck on starting’ happens because it takes time to get into the mind-set you need to write. Once ideas begin flowing – certainly for me – they tend to keep flowing.
Do these techniques work for you?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015