So you’ve got the itch to write. You want to tell a story fabricated by your own narrative, interweaving a sense of meaning through the piece with imagery, sense of place and characterisation. It may be intimidating to know where to begin all this. You’ve opened your notebook to a fresh, untainted page, biro in hand. And nothing. Have no fear. There is a simple remedy.
Controversial opinion: there is no such thing as writers block. Certainly, there are periods where ideas and word don’t seem to roll together and acculumate as easily. But as per my first ground rule (in the previous creative writing post), there is no such thing as bad writing. It is important to write everyday: oil the cogs so to speak. The key is a little thing called ‘freewriting’.
Simply, this is where you just write, pen to paper, non-stop for a set amount of time. Usually I would say 10 to 15 minutes is enough to wet your appetite, but of course keep going if you feel like you are getting somewhere. This may sound intimidating, however it is a highly beneficial and method advocated in many creative writing workshops run by authors of varying forms. Choose a subject to write about: your earliest memory; what you did last week; the weather outside. Get words down on the page and if they don’t come, write ‘nothing’ until they do.
Not only will this get rid of the scary blank new notebook feeling, it will form the basis of your sense of direction. It sets down the bare bones of something you can build up. For example, when I was writing about my experience of swimming at a young age, I mixed it with another story about a charcter getting drunk for the first time. These culminated into a story about a swimmer competing in a race as she examines her distorted relationship with her coach (which I may publish on here at some point). Think of what you want to write about. Prompts may include:
- Your own experiences: the first time you rode a bicycle, baking as a young child, your first relationship. They say ‘write what you know’ and memories are the best way to do this (just be ready for them to change as the writing is reworked later on).
- Evocative objects: look around the room . What strikes you? Pick it up, how does it felt, what does it smell like, how heavy is it, what would happen if you let go of it? If you are struggling to connect with anything, shoes can be extremely evocative. Where have they been, who might where them, what size are they and what does this indicate about the build of their owner?
- Opening sentences: a strong opening to a story is crucial in order to capture the reader from the word ‘go’. Here are a few that have been extremely effective for me: ‘The key to hiding your identity is not something I will ever understand’; ‘Why did you bring me to the bloody circus?’; ‘They say the first thing you fall in love with are their eyes, but …’. Use these and come up with a few of your own.
Good luck with your writing, you never know where it will take you!