START WRITING IN THE MIDDLE

One of the most common questions I hear from non-writers is “How do you get started?” They have something that they want to put down on paper, or something they have to write for a job, and they sit and stare at that unfriendly cursor, unable to type the first word. They assume that someone who writes for a living would know some sort of magic trigger to get that first sentence underway.

I don’t, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t usually start at the beginning. No matter what I’m writing — whether it’s an article, a website, an ad, or a blog post — I usually start somewhere in the middle.

I begin by putting down the main ideas I want to convey. I don’t worry about writing perfect sentences; instead, I focus more on making sure the thoughts capture what I want to say. Then I go back and polish them, knitting individual sentences into paragraphs. Next, I usually write the conclusion.  That’s important, because it’s the last thing a reader will see, so I want to make sure that whatever I’m writing leaves the right message and tone. Only after all that is done do I actually begin the introduction. And since I know what the introduction will lead to, it’s easier to write.

You don’t have to follow my method, and you probably shouldn’t. There’s likely a method that will work even better for you. But the main point I want to make is that there are no rules that say you have to start at the beginning. Start wherever it’s most convenient for you. That way, you’ll find the writing process more enjoyable, and what you write will reflect that.

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