According to a recent survey, four out of five Americans say they want to write a book someday, but only a few will ever do it. Why? Because it’s so hard to get started. Someday never seems to become this day─today.
But I’ll tell you a secret. Once you get started, the going gets easier. So here’s my advice. Sit down today and make a short list of your reasons why you want to write. Look at your list, and ask yourself, “Do I truly yearn to write?”
If your answer is yes, then at the bottom of your list, write in ink your starting date and time. It might be tomorrow, or one day next week, or next month. Read your starting date aloud, and if possible, share your plan with someone who loves you.
Then whatever you have to do to get ready─make room in your schedule, set up your writing space, get your computer fixed─do it. Don’t worry about what you’re going to write. Just get the necessary basics in place.
When the glorious starting day arrives, sit down at your appointed time, put your fingers on the keys, or on pen and paper, and just start writing anything that comes to mind as fast as your fingers can move. If you can’t think of anything, write a list of colors, flowers, animals, or whatever interests you. This is your warm-up. You are strengthening your finger muscles and your sitting muscles─because writing requires a lot of both.
If you need an idea, write about what you did yesterday. Turn your warm-up into a journal. Journaling is fun!
IMPORTANT: NO ONE WILL EVER SEE YOUR WARM-UP. Do not worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation. Do not worry if it even makes sense. Just write.
If your warm-up turns into a thought session about the story or memoir you want to write, that’s fine, but don’t push. Let it come naturally. You may surprise yourself. Once you begin writing about a person, place, or idea, you may unknowingly launch into narrative that has worth. After fifteen minutes, wipe the sweat off your brow and tell yourself, “Well done!”
15 Tips for More Abundant Writing
1. Every day, look at your list of reasons why you yearn to write. If you yearn to write, then you are a writer. Believe it.
2. Put writing first. Write when your energy is highest. Get up early, or stay up late. Carve out a time and protect it like you would for an important meeting.
3. Pick a starting time, and stick with it. Set a low goal at first─15 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
4. Close your door. Tell your family this is your private time.
5. Eliminate distractions: turn off the TV, get a babysitter, unplug the phone, stay off social media, avoid Facebook.
6. Don’t force yourself to be brilliant. Give yourself permission to write junk.
7. Don’t worry about mistakes. You can fix them later.
8. Go off on tangents. Follow strange paths. Allow yourself to PLAY.
9. Don’t show your work to anyone until you feel ready.
10. Take walks just to think about what you have written and where it might go.
11. Join – or start – a writing group. Meet often, support each other, and hold each other accountable in a gentle way.
12. Read the best writing you can find: the classics, the award winners, the authors you love.
13. Take writing workshops.
14. Read books and articles about writing craft.
15. Writing takes PRACTICE. Keep playing. Keep believing. Your writing time will naturally increase, and you will become prolific.