5 things to remember before writing anything


I got a great email this week, one of the best I’ve ever had.
It was from my editor to tell me that my book was done, no more edits required.  She wrote she was ‘thrilled’ with it and would now be sending it to the copy editor.
I’ll be honest with you, I was over the moon when I got that email. It’s a rare thing to get a written account of someone telling you that you’ve done enough, that your work is great, and it’s even better when they use the word ‘thrilled’ in reference to your writing. I’m seriously considering printing the email out and sticking it on my wall.

Anyway, email delight aside, I’m now starting something else and at the part where I realise I’ve forgotten everything I know about writing.
I’m at the beginning where it’s all a bit daunting, a bit scary and I’m getting a bit anxious at the blank page.

Then, I kind of remembered that I always feel like this.
Whether I’m writing a blog post or a novel, I’m always the same when it comes to starting something, and the rules are always the same.  So here’s what I need to remember when I get the blank page fear.

It will take time

Know that whatever you plan to write will not be done in five minutes.  You can not write the thing whilst your child is at their swimming lesson and expect it to be finished.  Writing takes a certain mix of concentration and daydreaming, it’s something that requires, what’s the word?  I want to say ‘a bit of your soul’ but that sounds too dramatic.  Ok, it requires, you.  All of you.  If you want to write something good, then you’ve got to be there and show up in the work.  That takes time, so give yourself time to do it and don’t beat yourself up when it’s not done in half an hour.

It’s better with a plan

This might be just personal to me, but whenever I’ve tried writing before without a clue what I’m writing, I find it’s really, really hard.  I’ve found that I need to have some kind of outline, even for a blog post. Even for an email!   I need to know what kind of shape I want to make, what narrative I’m working on.  And if I’m about to write a novel, the planning can take up to six months. So plan! Don’t start anything without the idea or at least a very strong title

If you don’t start you will never finish

All that being said, that stuff about planning, it’s so much better to start rather than do nothing.  So even if all you have is a title, go with that and write something.  Anything.  Write a few sentences. Don’t be precious with the words at the beginning, just get them down.  Once I start writing, the physical hitting of the keyboards and seeing the words fill up, I always find it gets easier.  So write.  Even if it’s just full of bits like ‘fill this bit in later,’  or ‘put something funny in here,’ get something down

It’s all lies

I once went round to a friends house, who was a writer, and had a peak in her office. Above her writing desk, in pink chalk on the wall, she’d written, ‘it’s all lies,’ and I thought it was brilliant.  It was a reminder to herself about her inner critic, that part of you that expects genius as soon as your fingers hit the keyboards. The part of you that wants to have a exceptional piece of work immediately and anything less is worthless, it’s the voice that tells you you’re wasting your time and it’ll be no good and who do you think you are etc etc. Forget that crap!  Take the burden off, write with the knowledge that you’ll have this inner critic telling you it’s worthless and remember, it’s all lies. Once you acknowledge it, and write anyway,  it’s not too scary.

You’ll feel better after you’ve written

This might be a personal thing, but I always feel better after I’ve written something.  Even if it’s just in my journal.  It’s a bit like going to the gym I suppose, beforehand, I try to put it off, then when I’m actually writing and feeling all the words are rubbish, I don’t feel too good. But afterwards, when it’s done and there’s something there, a word count on the page, a bit more done, I do get a sense of accomplishment.  Like I’ve done something, and that’s a good feeling.  So even if you only do a bit, you’ll feel better about it.


Do you have anything to add to the list?  What’s your one thing to remind yourself of before you start writing?


(Here’s an image to pin if you liked this stuff, I’ve been told to do this because it’s a good habit to get into, but I’m not sure.  If you’re a blogger can you tell me if I need to be doing this image stuff at the bottom of posts?  Ta)

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