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Friday, January 29, 2010

Get Your Writing Session off to a Quick Start

Every writer fears the blank page. If you indulge that fear, it becomes writer’s block, and the blank page stays that way. The trick is to have a tactic that allows you to get started quickly.

My late friend, Jack Ivancevich, liked to end a writing session in the middle of a sentence. The unfinished sentence gave him an unambiguous place to start writing on a page that wasn’t blank. Today, I want to suggest an additional tactic to get you started quickly in your writing session.

On a blank screen or sheet of paper, make a list of three ideas that belong in your current writing project. Leave enough space between these ideas to write a few sentences. For each of these ideas write six sentences. Each sentence should explain one of the following: who, what, when, where, why and how. This advice comes from one of the best authorities, Rudyard Kipling, who opens one of his Just So Stories, "The Elephant's Child" with:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Following Kipling's lead, expand your six sentences into 12. Then, expand the 12 sentences into 24. Now you have gone from a blank page to a full page, and perhaps your words spilled over on to a second page. Soon you will need to turn your attention from generating more words to pruning excess words and shaping attractive sentences and paragraphs.

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