Writing - Five Ways to Get Started

By which I mean 'get started in the morning or afternoon or evening' - whenever you write, in fact. But I don't mean 'get started' in general. To write, you really have to want to write. You have to have ideas, to live with people and places milling about your head, to see as a writer sees and hear as a writer hears, and have that essential desire to communicate. But all the same, sometimes it can be hard just to 'get going'. The blank screen is as bad as the blank page in that respect. You can spend plenty of time planning and plotting, even more time researching - particularly now that you can browse online. But sooner or later, you have to get down to it, and write something. And in my years of experience of running workshops, that can be the most difficult thing for people to do. It's a problem I have myself sometimes - now for instance - although for me it comes and goes a bit. And sooner or later, I know that I can bite the bullet and get down to it. But here are some of my own favourite ways to get started. All reasonable contributions welcome!
1 - Post to a blog. There is something about blogging that - for me at any rate - primes the pump, gets the words flowing. To be used with care though. All too easy to think that - having posted to your blog - you've actually achieved something. Well you have. You've achieved a blog post.
2 - Drink a mug of strong - real - coffee. Alcohol makes me think that I can write all kinds of brilliant things. I no longer believe it. Not, you understand, that I'm against it in principle. Just that it's deceptive. If you write under the influence of any mind altering substance, you'll soon realise that when you read back what you've written you'll be doomed to disappointment. But strong coffee - that always works for me.
3 - Stop while you are in mid creative flow. This is a really useful piece of advice and I can't remember who first gave it to me, so if I'm infringing anyone's copyright I apologise in advance, and will post a proper attribution! Do not stop at the end of a scene, or chapter. If you can bring yourself to do it, stop while you still want to go on rather than when you feel you are winding down. That way there's a chance that some of the magic will still be there when you resume the following day.
4 - Go for a long walk first. Not always possible I know, and not advice which I follow half enough myself, but there is something inspirational about walking, something that seems to lift the pressure and make you want to get started.
5 - Fall in love. I owe this rather startling piece of advice to Scottish poet Robert Burns who in a letter to Maria Riddell said that he had to be in love himself before he could write a really good love poem - or words to that effect. He had, let's face it, another agenda. But he was right in this as in so much else. Being in love - as I remember it - can be pretty inspirational - so long as you can control a certain disastrous tendency to write only about the object of your affections.

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