So, you've found out about our Just Write contest and you're really excited to enter, maybe you've even settled on which one of the prompts you want to write about, or maybe you're going to be daring and try to incorporate both into your story. You're sitting there with your notebook open, pen hovering, or maybe you've just turned on your laptop and your fingers don't seem to want commit to the keys. You stare at the blank page before you for longer and longer, cold dread begins to ooze into your guts, your tongue feels thick and dry in your mouth. You can't seem to look away from that blank page, and you can't seem to begin to fill it and the harsh glare of its empty whiteness burns into your retinas. Ok, that was a bit melodramtic, but you know what I mean. It can be really hard to get started sometimes can't it? Well guess what, I can help you with that. The cool thing about getting to help out with this contest and write blogs about it is that I actually am a writer, and I feel like I have some helpful stuff to share with you since I'm a bit further down the road than you. But enough about me, let's get to those tricks I mentioned:
1. Make writing special for you.
What do I mean by this? Bribe yourself. I'm not kidding. What's my way of bribing myself? Well I posted a picture of all the "bribes" I've bought myself over the years just to the left here. I buy myself really nice notebooks that I often get from indie bookstores (Pages Books and Shelf Life carry some spiffy ones) but if you don't want to spend too much cash you can often find nice ones in dollar stores. I keep all of my writing books too. I sometimes like to imagine myself at eighty re-reading my writing books and thinking What on earth was I talking about?!
I couple my fancy writing book with a pen I really enjoy writing with. For me it's a fountain pen; I like the scratchy noise it makes as it flows across the paper. But maybe you have a pen that you already really enjoy writing with. Always write with that one. Just think about it, does some half-crumpled piece of looseleaf you found on your desk and a crummy pen that doesn't work properly seem appealing to write with now? Of course not. Also taking yourself on writing "dates" can help too. I take my writing book out to a nice coffe shop sometimes if I'm getting stuck. Having things like notebooks and trips to cafes makes you eager to start writing instead of dreading it.
2. Freewrite. Freewrite, freewrite, freewrite!
This is the trick I use the most. Freewriting just means that you aren't directly working on your project, rather you're writing about it. Often it takes the form of brainstorming, you throw some ideas out there like spaghetti and see what sticks to the wall. Sometimes for me it almost takes the form of "writer's therapy" where I complain about how terrible the new scene I wrote is, and I rant about that until I feel better and then eventually solutions begin to present themselves. The key to freewriting is to, well, be free about it. Write really fast and don't worry about grammar or spelling. Don't even stop to think. Sometimes I've come up with completely different angles to approach things from just by scribbling madly about it for ten minutes.
So there you are. Two tools to help get you started. I'll be posting about Jani Krulc and the Flywheel Reading Series next week and also be giving you another installment of the Teen Writer's Toolkit. So go find your note book and Just Write! (See what I did there? How I wittily worked the name of our contest into the sentence? That's how you know I'm a pro and not some hack.)