A few nights ago I was having trouble dropping off to sleep. My mind was buzzing with ideas and as I lay in the darkness I began to formulate the opening paragraph of a blog post in my mind. I turned the words over and around, re-shaping the sentences and refining the language. I’m sure it was the perfect blog post, the only problem was, I didn’t write it down! Just before I dropped off to sleep, I vowed that I would get it all down in writing as soon as I woke up the next morning. Of course, the next morning I couldn’t remember one single word of this masterpiece.
Write something – anything
Whatever medium you prefer to use – notebook, laptop, tablet – open up a page and write some words. You don’t need to start at the beginning or write in sentences, bullet points can be expanded later.
Always carry a notebook and pen
I like the romantic notion of the aspiring writer with a moleskin notebook and green fountain pen, scribbling away in the corner of a cosy café. Take every opportunity to jot down and ideas that come into your head, or phrases overheard, as soon as possible or use the memo app on your phone. >
I was horrified the other day when I read an article in The Guardian which said that one-third of teenagers had never written a letter. What do they teach them in schools nowadays? Being a bit old-fashioned (and old!) I have to confess that I do like writing things down. If you’re staring at the flashing cursor, put the keyboard to one side and write with a pen on paper. This method always works for me. In fact, I started writing this blog post in one of my favourite orange notebooks, using a pencil. I’ve got a bit of a thing about writing in pencil…
Go for a walk
Another one of my failsafe methods to order your thoughts and clear the mind. Put on a pair of comfy shoes and wrap up warm if necessary, then get outside into the fresh air. Go on your own if possible, empty your mind and simply walk. You don’t have to go far, trudge round the streets if necessary or feed the ducks in the local park. By the time you return home your subconscious mind will have mulled over the myriad of facts revolving in your mind and you’ll be ready to get these down on paper.
Begin at the end
If you’re having trouble getting started, perhaps deliberating too long over the exact wording of the opening sentence, start further on – plunge straight into the next chapter or section.
I hope that these tips help you when you are sitting facing the blank white page. I’ll leave you with one final thought. If one day you find ‘the muse’ is with you, the words are flowing and the ideas are buzzing – don’t stop! Keep writing, typing, recording on your phone, whatever it takes, keep going until you have noted down all your ideas – they can easily be refined later.