Making a Start

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Making a Start

Writing means sharing. It's part of the human condition to want to share things - thoughts, ideas, opinions.” - Paulo Coelho

Ideas can come from anywhere, and many writers carry a notebook or use notes on their mobile, or even record spoken prompts. Orson Scott Card in his The Writer’s Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy - well worth a read - refers to an ‘Ideas net’ where he likens writers to fishermen who pick up potential stories from all around them as they walk around in their daily lives. As a writer, you need to keep your net and note taking equipment handy at all times.Be awake to the possibility of anything giving you the idea for a story, whether it be an unusual label in a pair of jeans (and yes, we have seen this), or a story on the news about someone mistaking a flock of seagulls for an alien invasion fleet (not seen this one yet, and it’s all yours, so go write it now).

The point being that before you do anything else, you need an idea. It doesn’t need to be too complex at first and can come from anywhere and indeed anything, but you do need a point to start.

Once you have it, write the idea down.

Get it out of your head and onto the page or screen in front of you. Doing that immediately defeats the ominous whiteness of the BLANK PAGE staring at you. It doesn’t really matter if the idea sits there for a while or is even grammatically correct. Let it look back at you rather than simply floating around under your scalp.

Think of it a bit like music: the musician doesn’t just imagine the tune, he fires up his keyboard, penny whistle, or guitar and picks out the first few notes to see what it sounds like. Do the same with your idea: pin it to the page, look at it, let it free from the confines of your head.

Does the idea excite you?

Does it send parallel ideas coruscating around in your head?

Yes? Then proceed.

No? Write down another idea and see if that one gets you going but do not discard the other idea. Keep everything you write. Things have a habit coming in handy down the line and while the idea may not fire your neurons now, it may well do later on. Ultimately, there’s no point writing something that doesn’t get you fired up: if you’re not interested, then your potential reader sure as heck won’t be either.

Okay, so you have your idea. Now at this point many folk will say “but all the great ideas have been taken, it’s all been done before”.


You can make anything new by processing it through your brain, it’s called imagination. Allow your ego a moment of “Hey, not bad at all” for coming up with the idea, and then start looking forward to the next step in the process (unless you’re a Dalek, most of them aren’t so good at steps).

But the idea is just the start. Now we have to create the universe.

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