Eight ways to make yourself write
However much planning you’ve done in advance, starting to write something new can be a daunting task. The sight of a blank screen or a blank sheet of paper can make otherwise unimportant tasks suddenly become so urgent that you have to leave your desk to deal with them.
Here are some ideas to help you get going. They may also prove useful when you get stuck or lose confidence later in the project.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes and force yourself to sit at your desk until it pings. You may start to write out of sheer boredom.
- Write something - anything that will stop that screen or paper being blank. At this stage, it's more important to be writing than to be right so even typing "I don't know what to say" five times may help to break the log jam.
- Set up a personal ritual to get you in the mood for writing. Scented candles, exercise, meditation, coffee and cake are just a few of the possibilities you could consider, but alcohol is best treated with caution. Although I’ve heard that some good writing has been done under its influence, it’s also responsible for some pretty appalling stuff.
- Promise yourself a reward as soon as you’ve written a set number of words. (If you're like me, this could be another excuse for cake.) Keep the target low at first to make sure you hit it.
- Use music to block out the distracting sounds of the outside world. If you always use the same music for the same project, this can be part of your writing ritual as well as a way of timing your sessions. Instrumental music is best because there are no words to lure you away from your own, and I find that film soundtracks work particularly well.
- Try writing something different. If you’re stuck on the first chapter, write a scene from later in the book. If you’re stuck on the opening for an article, write the last paragraph first.
- Change the way you write by using a pencil instead of a keyboard. Or try dictating your story by recording what you're saying or using dictation software. (Dragon Naturally Speaking is amazingly accurate.)
- Try writing somewhere else. Sit in a different room, take your laptop outside, go on a writers’ retreat or hire a room in a local hotel.
- Try writing at a different time of day. Get up before everyone else so you can write while the house is quiet. Or stay up late and write when everyone else is in bed.