Lie back and think of something.

Starting a new book is the hardest thing. I’ve written about this before, and I make no apology for mentioning it again. Not least because it’s that time of the year again. My usual methods in writing a book involve a planning stage that usually sees me doing a lot of listening to music whilst thinking (stop whinging, because you can’t do the same where you work and charge the time as valid business expense). With basic plot summary in my head I have a rough idea of sort of what I’m going to write. I discuss ideas a lot with people at this stage too, as bouncing ideas off some-one does help develop things, iron out wrinkles that you yourself missed and gets it well stuck in mind so that key details dreamt up to the soundtrack of Space Brothers and Delerium don’t get instantly forgotten again.

Commiting to the page comes when the guilt of having no tangible output that I can hold up and say “Here, I have been working – honest. Look what I did, Mummy – stick it to the door of the fridge” gets too much. I find opening that plain, empty document template is really hard. Staring at white empty space in a word processing programme really does get you down. Current word count: 0. Target word count: 90,000. Ouch. So at this stage I try to think of an opening that flows quickly to the page, just to get something down. Sometimes this really works well, and I keep what I write. Other times (more often) it quietly gets deleted or substantially rewritten once I’ve got a few more words written and I think I won’t miss those first few thousand hastily written daubs. In the writing section of my website I recently posted an example of the original opening to one book I wrote. Nothing of it is in the finished book, but it got the ball rolling so it did its bit.

I’ve written maybe 500 words, and I’m already blogging as a means of writing-avoidance. Before you know it I’ll be vacuuming the carpets and dusting shelves – the joys of being a writer. Still, I’ve already written two books this year, with a third prepped for going to print, so it’s not like I’ve had seven months of staring at the ceiling doing nothing but listen to music, honest.