Reluctant to Start?

You have an idea. You want to write a book. You are almost afraid to start. You’ve decided which age level you want as your audience. Now what? Once you know what you want to write–fiction, nonfiction, history, adventure–and who your target audience is, how do you begin?

First: Believe you can. Confidence will take you far. Simply start.

There isn’t one perfect way to write. Group writing, classroom writing, brain-storming and meditation will all work. Your process depends on what works for you. You can write monologues that will be performed by a drama group. You can write YouTube vignettes using animated figures to carry the dialogue and reader interactions to choose the plot. The more you expose yourself to different kinds of writing and the greater the variety of books you read, the more choices you will have for creating your book. Don’t be afraid of feeling clumsy when you start. It will become smoother, easier and faster.

Find a place to write that is yours. Have your tools–computer, internet connection, paper and pens– always ready for use. If you must put your equipment away, perhaps because you are using the dining room table and, occasionally, your family needs to dine, put your things away in an easily accessible place. You don’t want to face a half-hour of organization before each writing session.

Try to imagine yourself writing. Do you see a clean desk? (I’ve never seen a writer’s desk that was clean, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.) Do you see flowers and plants around your writing area? Try to imagine what you need to be comfortable, then provide it. But don’t put off writing until your space is perfect, because that time may never arrive. Just create a place, a habitual, usual, I-always-write-when-I’m-here place, where it is possible for you to write, and try to make it your space. Then begin.

Write a one-sentence description of your story (or the non-fiction) you want to write. For example:

This story describes the efforts of Udi, the princess of Marlia to rid her country of Vennia, the witch of Handinia.


This story tells of the trouble thirteen-year-old Jessie Kayle has in trying to prove to her teacher and her friends that she is not a thief.

The story may change as you write it–in fact, it probably will–but most writers need some direction when they begin.

Your story may come from an incident in your life, something you observed or wondered about. Writers who had unhappy childhoods may have a rich lode of experiences that are the basic drama of their books. There may be some payback for all the suffering you endured. Your writing may be autobiographical, but it’s more likely to be a composition of experience, observation and imagination.

Your life is a tangled ball of ideas and remembered incidents and emotions that combine in unique ways to become the content of your work. You need to pick up one end of a thread of experience in your life and write one sentence about it. That done. You are on your way to a book.


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