Start as you mean to go on

I had lunch with my dad the other day.  My dad is an unique individual — he’s got the soul of a poet, the mind of a theoretical mathematician, and the hands of a repairman. When I was younger, he used to show me his poems, but only the perfect ones that held to rhyme and rhythm, and when I started writing, he grumbled about writing a bodice-ripper of his own one day. My step-mother thinks it’s brilliant. My brother thinks he’s adopted.

So my dad took me out to lunch, and in between gossip about his church and the erotic romance publishing industry, my dad sighed and sipped his lemonade.

“You know, every now and then I get this notion that I’m going to write a book,” he said. “I sit down at the computer, open up a fresh document…”

I grinned, because I knew where this was going. Anyone who has ever tried to write anything creative knows. He laughed and flipped me the bird.

“And then I check the news, go to some of my favorite industry sites, do the dishes…”

“And suddenly it’s lunch time, right?”

He scowled, and then nodded. “I just don’t know how to start.”

I leaned across the table. “The worst thing in the world is a blank Word document,” I confessed. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more daunting. That’s why I never start one without an opening line in mind.”

I might not keep that first line, and it might be crap, but it’s a start. It’s words on the page, and a chance for those words to be fruitful and multiply. It’s beginning as I mean to go on — by writing. It’s how I wrote this post, when I had no idea what to write for today’s post. Use those words to hook your imagination into the process, and the rest should follow.

It doesn’t always work that way, and sometimes I have to write on command (currently, I’m staring at a blank Word document and exchanging insults with it because I have to magic up a short and I decided two days ago that the plot I was working with was no good and I had to start over). But it’s that act of getting that first line down that sets me off. Sure, I might stall out or get distracted, or have to set everything aside because of other work, but none of that matters when I’m starting out. When I’m working on my beginning.

So. There you go. Liz and beginnings. Aren’t you glad you asked?


Liz Silver is an editor, an author, a champion procrastinator. Her hobbies include baking, yoga, making beaded jewelry, and writing ridiculous bios in the third person. And yes, her father really does hold a PhD in Physics and spend his time doing manual labor because he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.

2 Responses to Start as you mean to go on

  1. Scarlett Parrish

    This blog post makes Benedict Cumberbatch hard.