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Where to Start?

By August 6, 20112 Comments
A friend called the other day. She’s had a book in her head for ages, and she’s finally ready to write it, except for one tiny detail. Where should she start? She hadn’t written a word yet, because of her fear she might start in the wrong place.

I told her that the best place to start is with the first thought that comes to mind. With computers we don’t have to worry where to start, we simply have to get the words down. Later, we can revise, revamp, and reorganize the material, but we can’t get anywhere until we get the words down on paper (or in the computer, as it is, today).

When she asked where to start writing, the little devil in me wanted to say, “In the kitchen, in the office, in the dining room, in the bedroom; wherever you keep your computer. That’s where to start!”

Her fear of starting in the wrong place brings up a deeper issue. We all have fears, be they mild or serious, that thwart our efforts, if we’re not careful. In this case, she was afraid to begin writing a book. I have a project—not a writing project, but still a complicated thing I want to learn—that I keep putting off, because I have fears around it. Oh, I have devised all sorts of excuses, such as I want to wait until I have a large block of time to work on it, or I’m not smart enough to learn it. It’s been bugging me for a couple of months. I should listen to my own advice: just start it! What’s the worst that could happen?

Do you have fears that are keeping you from writing or doing other things you need or want to do? Let’s face those fears together. By the end of this month, I intend to have started that project, just as my friend will have started writing her book. It doesn’t matter where I begin, only that I begin.
One more note: Write In Style, my award-winning book on creative writing, is officially out of print. New copies are selling for between $75 and $220 on Amazon. While they last, however, you can still buy one of the few remaining new copies at the original price of $12.95. To purchase, go to Hurry! Supplies are rapidly dwindling. Only a few dozen are left.
Bobbie Christmas

Bobbie Christmas

Editor Bobbie Christmas is your book doctor. She can also be your mentor, ghostwriter, copywriter, and writing and publishing consultant. After spending decades writing and editing for a living, Bobbie became a much-sought-after seminar and workshop leader. She began Zebra Communications in 1992 in Atlanta, Georgia, to provide professional editing services to publishers and to writers like you.


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  • Hello Bobbie,

    I liked your answer, "write where your computer is." Six years ago I had a book idea, and it took me three months to write the first draft.

    As time passed, I learned more and more about the craft of writing, including your book, "Write in Style." Putting everything I learned including comments from readers groups that I joined, I edited it, chopped it up, cut and deleted and now the finished manuscript is with a professional editor.

    Tell your friend to title her work and then begin anywhere. I found that once I had a title on paper the words flowed until the initial draft was completed. The word processors of today will allow her to change and edit after she has finished her first draft.

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