A wise person once wrote, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Wonder how many rough drafts it took that writer to get to that sentence.
As anyone who has ever sat down to write can attest, one of the hardest things is often getting started. It's one of the questions Mister Words (that's me) is asked most often. The statement usually goes along the lines of, "I have good ideas, but when I sit down to write I just can't get started. Help!"
Getting started is one of the most difficult tasks for any writer. We are experts at procrastination, delay and when the little critic inside our heads totally freezes us up-- abandonment. Fortunately, there are ways to jumpstart the process. The first is structure.
If you decided to build a house, you wouldn't just start sawing wood and hammering nails-- you'd draw up a plan. The same is true of writing. It doesn't have to be a formal outline, but sketching out bullet points of what you want to say, the order in which you wish to express your ideas and, most importantly, where you are headed is invaluable. Not only does making a plan force you to think things out before you start in, it also keeps you on track. If you should get lost and feel yourself starting to write in circles, you can just check your bullet points and remember what you wanted to say next.
People often complain that their first sentence (or even first paragraph) comes out weak. This is an easy thing to fix. Once you're done with your first draft, try cutting that first sentence or paragraph. More often than not, your piece will work just fine without them.
Another great exercise when you don't know how to begin is to just start typing (or writing) anything. It can even be, "Well here I am sitting at the keyboard typing words when I should be writing something important but my mind won't let me and once again I'm ready to bang my head against the desk in frustration." The trick is to just keep spewing out the words without judgement-- soon enough you'll discover that you've gotten all the garbage out of your system, you're warmed up and ready to start some real writing.
Ultimately the easiest way to start writing is simply to, well, start writing. Remember, you can always come back and trim the fat. But by then, you'll be well on your way.
Until next time, this is Mister Words reminding you... the journey of ten thousand words begins with a single letter.