When it comes to writing, one of the hardest parts is knowing where and how to start. When faced with writing a creative work, whether fiction or nonfiction, short or long, this can be a daunting question. Sometimes that blank piece of paper or computer screen seems too daunting. It's much easier to leave it and forget it, right? Wrong! The key is to find a method that works for you. Everyone approaches the process differently. Some invoke the creative gods before beginning. Some perform a good luck ritual. And others simply start writing, hoping that some nugget of writing will be worth keeping.
Writing does not have to be a start-to-finish proposition. It's a process. For some, starting at the beginning is a bit overwhelming. How will you get from A to B? Knowing there's an entire story that must come after that beginning can make it even harder to start. How can you avoid this "block"? Start in the middle. This is one way I've found to make the starting part much less of a struggle. I know certain scenes that I want to include, so that's what I write first. Then I may work on the beginning, or the ending. When I do get to the beginning, I'm not as overwhelmed, because there are scenes in place already, so there's something to work toward--and I know I'll be able to get there.
Everyone works differently. A good friend of mine starts at the end and works backward. Other writers prefer to leave the ending for last, because just like their future readers, they want to find out what will happen. At the other end of this spectrum are those who prefer to plot and outline the entire story before beginning. This process works much like starting in the middle. If you can see that you have a plan, you know that there is a place to "get to" once you begin. You're not jumping into the great unknown of the blank screen.
The important thing to remember is that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to go about writing your story. You don't have to start at the beginning. You don't have to have the entire story outlined before you begin or know every detail about every scene before you write it. You don't even have to know how the story will end! What IS important is that you start. Somewhere. Get something on paper or on screen. You can always go back and change things, because no matter what your style, there will be always be revision. But that's a topic for another time. For now, find a comfortable chair, get out your paper or computer, and start writing.
And enjoy the process.
Maurene Janiece is a writer of young adult fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Teens from Vermont College and has taught creative and composition writing at the high school and college levels. She offers advice for new writers and provides manuscript critiques through her website. She has published several nonfiction books as Maurene J. Hinds.