Writing can be overwhelming. It’s like any other huge job. Getting a college or advanced degree. Cleaning out the garage. Getting your affairs in order, for when you die. All the advice books tell you to break it all down into small, manageable steps. Then take that first step. But, for writing, what is the smallest possible step? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- For a blog: Click on “new post.” The blank new post template will appear. Put words, any words, in the title space. Go from there. Remember, you don’t have to publish it. You just need to produce something.
- For a story: Take out a blank tablet or note pad. Place it in the middle of your work space. Come up with the name of a character. Any name. Start describing that person. Is this a character you can build a story around, or insert into a story you’re currently working on?
- For an essay: Ditto about the blank tablet or note pad. Jot down the ideas that obsess you, the ones that keep creeping back into your mind when you’re doing something else. For me, those ideas include: hunger; loneliness; hoarding; aging, and a few others. These are not necessarily issues that I’m dealing with myself. They’re just ideas that I can’t let go of. Then jot down all the words that you associate with those images. Can you build an essay out of that?
You may already have an idea of where you want to go, the story you want to tell or the novel you want to write. You may already have a great opening line or scene in mind. But if you don’t, the goal is to start somewhere, with something. You have to get those first words or thoughts down on paper or on the screen. This particular first step may not go anywhere. But without that, there is, will be, nothing.