You’re writing your book. Finally! You’re very excited, because you’ve always wanted to write.
But there’s one small problem. You can’t get started. You have endless ideas, and a notebook full of “how to write” tips. When it comes to writing however, you sit down at your computer, and nothing happens.
Writing your book when you don’t know how to start
Here’s a blog post on getting started writing a book that I found useful:
A book is always a long project, even if you’re writing a short ebook of 10,000 words. You need to avoid over-long preparation, otherwise your book will die long before you give it shape and form. Problems (there are always problems) can seem insurmountable. You give up, when you should simply have started writing. Problems always resolve themselves while you write, because you’re discovering the book as you write.
This is what worked for me.
Start anyway: write what you WANT to write
I’m writing the final book in my time travel trilogy, which should have made it easier to write the book, because I knew the characters. It didn’t make it easier to start. It took me forever — I dithered for weeks.
Finally I realized that I didn’t have to start at the beginning. What if I started writing where I wanted to write? So I started writing a scene which takes place midway through the book, when Priscilla discovers that she’s falling in love with Dominick.
That gave me confidence, and I was ready to write the first couple of chapters.
Currently, I’m making notes and exploring the characters in my next book. (It’s either the next book, or the one after that, I haven’t decided. :-))
I won’t start working on this book, until I complete Priscilla. I’ve done a basic outline. Then I jumped into writing a scene last Saturday. I had no intention of doing that, but the words poured out. Now I’m eager to write.
If you’re having trouble starting your book, don’t start at the beginning. Start wherever you want to write.
The benefits of not starting at the beginning
Starting your book right at the beginning is challenging. You don’t know the characters very well, and you don’t know the story either.
Over the years, I’ve started at least ten novels, and got no further than Chapter Three. I’d get all inspired, and enthusiastic about the book, and then I’d lose all inspiration.
I’d tell myself that “I’ll write tomorrow”. Of course, tomorrow never came. Within a few weeks, I’d forgotten about the book completely. Then a month or three later, I’d start another book.
Here are some benefits of not starting your book at the beginning:
- Less pressure: you’re not as much concerned about getting it right;
- You can write the scenes you really want to write;
- You get to know your characters, and get ideas for plot development;
- You’re more confident, because you’re writing, and aren’t just thinking about writing.
If you’re starting at a blank computer screen, try it. Start writing a scene that’s a little further along in your novel. You can choose any scene at all. Before you know it, you’ll be writing confidently.