You have an idea. You want to write a story – or even a whole book.

But you can’t seem to make yourself start. Your brain seems empty.

Here are few tips that might help:


Pick a name

If your main characters have names– it makes them real, closer to you.



Photos are great to use as a prompt for your main character.

If you want to browse for ‘safe’ photos try hair-dressing websites with head and shoulders snapshots. Or look through hairdressing magazines. You can buy them or ask your hairdresser for old issues they plan to throw out.


Interview your characters

Ask them questions about their lives, likes, dislikes, inspiration, aspirations.



Choose something that gives you the right atmosphere for your genre. It can also put you in the right mood.


No Distractions

Go somewhere like a forest or beach or lock yourself in a room with no distractions. Do not start the day with emails, Internet or anything electronic. Emails can put you in a bad mood, give you heaps of work and the Internet is … well, it’s a distraction which can eat up hours.


Blitz Days

Mark out blitz days on your calendar for the next two weeks. Each one to be a whole day where you don’t answer the phone, check emails or cook (nothing wrong with leftovers). If you are still at school, why not mark out days in the holidays?



Start the day with a walk, cycling or a swim. Oxygen helps you think and moving your body can calm those excitable parts of your brain that won’t let you focus on your ideas. But if you walk with a companion – No talking. It’s just you and your mind. I know, it’s scary. But try it.


Test Scenes

Open a file that will not be the start of your book, but is a place for you to ‘play’ with scenes, paragraphs or even sentences in any order.  Later, if you write something that you love, you can cut and paste into your story.


Make a deal with yourself

Set a timer for a specified amount. When the alarm sounds, you can reward yourself with a walk, a drink or you can stare out of a window (which is good for your eyesight anyway). No more than half an hour off, then back to work for another hour. I only have to do this for a day or so, then I’m into my story.


Read a ‘how-to’ Book

I find no matter how strange I find other writers methods, there is always something inspirational or surprising in books on how to write.


Title Page

Set up a file with page numbers and a classy title page. Suddenly it looks like a real manuscript.


Word or Page Target

Work out a reachable goal for either a word or page target, then reward yourself when you get there.


Brainstorm your Favourite Words

Just to get your brain working, write down a long list of your favourite words and see how many you can slip into your story.

Another fun game that David and I play is that we give each other a word for the day, something eccentric but not too obscure and the challenge is that we have to use that word in that day’s writing.


Read Your Own Work

Read over something you wrote and are proud of. You did it once, so you can do it again.

Read a review that is positive and upbuilding (hopefully you’ve used the other sort to line the bottom of your birdcage).


Oh, and guess what?

By the time you have tried all of these, you will be amazed to discover that you have started your book.

Or at least, be reasonably organised, in the right frame of mind and suitably exercised to do so.


Happy Writing!

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