Writing Advice

Writing the First Line

Here’s a scenario: You’ve spent months planning, worldbuilding, creating character profiles, researching the market, looking up agents you’d like to query one day, designing your dream front cover – everything, except one thing: Writing. It can be easy to fall into this trap, and trust me, I’ve done it. But sometimes, we need to get out of the planning mode and finally write that first line.

At first, there will be resistance. There will always be resistance. But you’ve got to fight through it. Here are a few ways to take you over the line from planning to writing:

  • Create a Document Titled ‘Just Write’

There. You have a blank canvas in front of you, ready for you to spill the contents of your imagination on. Start the timer, set it for 15 minutes because we want to keep the targets small at first. As soon as you click Start, let your fingers type and type like crazy. You can write any scene you want in your story, any part of your story that you find most exciting, be it bits of dialogue or an action sequence. Write, keep on writing and don’t stop until the timer is over. Heck, if the timer is over and you want to keep on writing, keep on writing.

Join the rest of the world in the challenge to write a novel in a month this November. The whole focus of the event is to get you writing. Thirty days not enough for you? There are also yearlong events, although without the time pressure, it’s less likely to get you motivated to write. The key to succeeding in this event is accountability. You need someone or something that will push you and help you along to get to the finish line. So tell people you’re taking part in the challenge, or take part in Camp NaNoWriMo and join a cabin. There you can meet people who can support you and encourage you to write.

  • Find a Writing Buddy

This is a symbiotic relationship in which you both support each other and encourage each other to write. A Writing Buddy can help you through your plot problems, if you are stuck for an idea and they can keep checking up on you to make sure that you are writing. You can find a writing buddy by posting on writing groups e.g. NaNoWrimo forums, writing websites and even conferences. This works best when you are both writing in similar, if not the same genre and if your interests match so that it is easier to help each other in writing.

  • Go on a Writing Retreat

If you are very busy, sometimes it is easier to allocate a specific set of time e.g. a week, where you dedicate it to writing. Writing retreats are quite popular amongst authors, especially at Go Teen Writers. It’s almost like a holiday, where you go to another location, where it’s quiet and you have the time and the right environment to concentrate and focus on your writing. Or if going away for a writing retreat isn’t an affordable option, take a couple of days of work and turn your room into a writing retreat of it’s own. No distractions, just you and your story. As an aside, I’d just like to mention the writing challenges that Go Teen Writers often host – these events can be good motivators to get you writing.

At the end of the day, a writer writes, and sometimes, it can seem really difficult to get writing. It can help if you allocate a specific time of the day, where you spend a solid hour writing. If it is dedicated to this purpose, and this purpose alone, it may be enough to get you going. If you find this is still not the case, perhaps there are still some distractions looming about that are preventing you from getting to work. So make sure:

  • Phone is turned off or at the very least on silent and out of sight
  • Block the internet – by disconnecting the Ethernet cable or from Wi-Fi. You can also have add-ons to browsers or paid programs like Freedom that put a time limit on websites or block them for a period so that you can focus on your task at hand.
  • Have a de-cluttered desk to work at or go to a place that you associate with writing e.g. a cafe

With around two weeks left to go before NaNoWrimo, hopefully these tips will come in handy when it comes to writing that first line.




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