Help starting things?

So I’ve always had a problem starting things. Once I get going, I can crank words (or music) quite easily and quickly. But it’s getting over the hump of a blank page. Even if I outline and write notes of how something is going to go, it’s jumping in and actually writing (or composing) that I have problems with.

Any suggestions how to get over this? I waste a hell of a lot of time actually leading up to writing the damn thing.

I’m an outliner. I try to have a complete scene list (at least one sentence per scene) before I start writing the prose. Sometimes I don’t have the outline finished before I start the writing. But one way or the other, here’s what I always remind myself:

I do not have to begin at the beginning.

From the very start, I try to remind myself that my muse may want to work on something other than “the next scene.” So at each point along the way, including the very beginning, I ask “what’s the next (or first) scene I can work on?”

Also notice that I don’t say anything about “finish” or “complete.” My muse may only have an idea for part of a scene, or many parts of many scenes, but perhaps not anything complete. Eventually, the tide will turn and the work will start writing itself downhill. And then the first draft will be done.

And, since I tend to be on the perfectionist side of the scale, I force myself not to edit a first draft. Whatever it is, I can put in an annotation to fix something, and go on until the draft is complete. Even if that means the beginning of the story no longer makes sense given the ending I’ve just written. Or the ending of the story no longer makes sense given the beginning I’ve just written.That gets fixed in revision. Not in my first draft.

Good luck.

Yeah…starting somewhere else does make it easier to gain momentum. It’s just getting that initial push, you know?

Do you mean the very first page, or for each session?

If it’s for each session, then the ‘trick’ I use is always

finsh a session in the middle of something. That way when I start a new one I already know what I’m doing. It’s a small but sometimes neccessary kick start to momentum.

If it’s the very start of a new project that is the problem, then give yourself permission to turn off your quality control filter for the first 200 words and write any old gibberish.

Don’t go back and fix the first 200 until you have at least 1,000 on the page.

For composing, I use a similar trick although the system is different because of the more organic way I grow songs.

I start with the bit I find hardest first, and gradually move to easiest. For me, it’s: Riff, Lyric hook, chords / arrangement. Initially, each of these will be rough. Lyrics in particular may be pretty low quality as long as they have the right general theme and rhythm. After that it’s time to kick in the quality control filter again and evolve that bad boy.

Worked for Ernest Hemingway, too.

I should try to finish in the middle of something. I always try to make certain I’m done with whatever I started, which doesn’t help for momentum the next day. :frowning:

Steven Pressfield’s website and his book The War of Art also have some ideas.

Hugh et al,
Just watched his videos on Afghanistan. Very, very easy to listen to and watch…hypnotic, almost. Disarmingly persuasive, and dangerously so, at least in my case it was.

I expect it was because he espoused certain points that I already held to be true, that caused me to accept unquestioningly, his thesis in its entirety. :blush:

It wasn’t until I read the first of the comments that took him to task over some point or other, that it dawned on me, I’d just abandoned a fundamental foundation stone of my belief system: neither believe nor disbelieve anything of consequence, until you have categorical proof (or at least, as much as is possible), one way or the other. Take nothing at face value. And yet I never once questioned the veracity of his arguments.

He’d make a great Privat Pension Plan salesman. jeezzz!

As for the thread topic, I always like to look at an empty screen first off, That way, at the end of the day, when there is still nothing there, I can think to myself, ‘Great! At least it’s not full of a load of old shite! I’ll have a nice clean start in the morning.’
Take care