The new year offers the perfect opportunity to get start on a new writing project, be it an essay, a short story, poetry, or a book. You open your laptop or crack open your notebook and…are paralyzed by the blank white space.
This is not uncommon.
We’ve all been stopped up for some reason or another, so we thought we’d share 5 of our favorite ways to kick-start a writing project.
- Turn off your inner editor. As former editors, we understand the desire to wow and amaze with our first draft. But, realistically, this doesn’t happen all that often. In fact, it’s as rare as a unicorn sighting. So we recommend thinking of your first go as just writing down notes. It takes the pressure off. And when you go back and reread your “notes,” you’ll be surprised at how good your first brain dump is.
- Create a comfortable environment. Whether it’s hunkering down at your favorite coffee shop or sitting in a comfortable chair at home with a steaming mug of Earl Grey, take care of your physical creature comforts so you can feel as if the writing process is a pleasure, a treat from soup to nuts. Along those lines, consider the medium. Are you a speedy typist, or do you love writing longhand with a specific pen, filling up a beautiful journal with your prose and poetry? Think about how you prefer to write and gather the appropriate tools to help you on your literary journey.
- Change things up. That said, sometimes it’s good to break it up. If you are stuck, change your surroundings and your process. If you are a serious techie who never leaves your ergonomic chair, take a small notebook on your walk along the beach so you can jot down your thoughts with a fresh eye.
- Give yourself a prompt. You don’t have to write in a linear or chronological manner. Give yourself a short writing challenge, perhaps at the beginning of your writing time. If you are writing a memoir, detail your childhood bedroom as thoroughly as possible or imagine the adult protagonist in your novel at his senior prom or getting fired from his job. These writing exercises can inform your work and get your juices flowing.
- Work on different parts of the same project. We love developing book proposals, because if we get stuck on or sick of the manuscript, we can go to the bookstore and research our competition or possible publishers. We can brainstorm inexpensive and/or wacky marketing and publicity ideas. These are concrete elements, as necessary to your submission as your manuscript sample, so it’s a productive part of your writing process.
If you are ready to write your proposal, we are offering an all-day intensive of our proven workshop, 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal, on 2/9/13. More information about our class can be found here.