Getting started

I thought I’d start 2016 and my part of this great new blog space with an attempt to respond to the words I hear so often – ‘I don’t know where to get started writing a book’.

The timing of this new blog is great because I’m setting out on a new journey myself. That is to say, I’m starting to write a new book and I thought I might share some if that with you here.

For those of you who want to write, getting started is surprisingly simple… just sit down with whatever writing implement you prefer and write something down. It really doesn’t matter what you write. Just write something.

Although I write the actual chapters on a computer, each book gets its own new notebook. Coloured pencils and post-it notes are essential too. More about that in a later blog.

Although I write the actual chapters on a computer, each book gets its own new notebook. Coloured pencils and post-it notes are essential too. More about that in a later blog.

A blank page can be quite intimidating, even for those of us who have published a few books or stories or articles. Or even a lot of them. A blank page is all about the possibility of failure. Whereas a page with words on it – any words – is writing.

Still haven’t started? Ok, here’s a question. What do you want to write? No. Don’t say it out loud… write it down. ‘I want to write books about XXXXX’ ‘I want to write romance or crime.’ ‘I want to write books for children.’ ‘I want to write about the lifecycle of wasps.’ Or whatever.

Now look at that page. It has words on it and you have started.

Of course there’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s more or less how I start all my books. I decide what I want to write about. I might decide to write about loss and grief, or about friendships between women. Sometimes it’s a writing challenge I set myself. Can I set a book in one small enclosed space and make it work? Or can I write a book that makes people cry (in a good way).

Whatever it is you have written on that page, it must be something that interests and excites you. Then you can pass on that excitement to your readers.

There’s a lot of technique to writing. Just like someone who works with wood, we need tools to help us build things – in this case our books. That sort of thing can be learned if you go to writing groups or conferences of workshops. But the most important thing – the underlying passion – that’s yours alone.


And now for the shameless self-promotion. In 2016 I am tutoring at two writing retreats at Stratford Upon Avon – that’s right, Shakespeare country. My co-tutor for the event is the brilliant Alison May. The retreats are designed to teach the tools of our trade, and to give writers time and inspiration to lift their writing career to the next level… whether you are new to this exciting world or even if you have some work under your belt. A weekend with other writers is the best way to refresh and inspire yourself.

If you are interested in such a retreat – you can find out about it here…

And in the meantime, I’ll be back soon, with more thoughts on writing.

17 thoughts on “Getting started

  1. Reblogged this on cicampbellblog and commented:
    For many authors, this is the hardest part of writing…getting started on a new project.
    No matter how long you’ve been writing, how many books you’ve had published, there seems always to be that moment of doubt: the ‘can I do it again’ moment.
    For new writers, the blank page can be particularly intimidating. But it doesn’t need to be.
    This post has some good advice for writers, newbie or experienced, on how to get started.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ooh, those first empty pages! They are daunting, even for experienced writers. I never really get going until about a third of the way through – I just keep reminding myself that until there are words down there, you can’t go back and edit them!

    Liked by 2 people

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