How To Start Writing Again

Writing is as simple as it is tough.

You might just be like me. We have that idea in our heads. We know what content we want to write about. We can sort of imagine the headline when we publish the article. All except that we haven’t quite thought through the exact words we are going to fill the article with. And that’s perfectly fine.

But the biggest problem is to not even be able to start writing the first word.

It has been such a long time since I’m ready to sit down, open up my book and set myself in the state of mind where I’m comfortable enough to share my words with others. Before I know it, I truly regret all the time I didn’t spend doing one of my favourite things in the world— writing. I wasn’t always like that.

The 7-Year Old Detective Novelist

When I was young, I would read comics on Detective Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes books, and basically devour any detective or crime-related content. The idea of mystery and suspense somehow really stuck to me (even till today). The 7 year-old me would sit down and even attempt to write a detective story of my own, compared to other kids out there with greater priorities in their lives like watching SpongeBob or whatever.

Thinking back now, my stories were, well, there’s no nice way to put it — incredibly horrible. The characters did not have well-thought out personalities or backstories, the plot was filled with loopholes that I chose to ignore and incoherent dialogue that probably didn't even make sense.

Yes, they were bad. Sure, it wasn’t great from a storytelling point of view, or from a writer’s perspective. But I wasn’t so hard up on myself. I was just a 7-year old kid who dreamed about writing a detective book one day and actively getting started on it. I’m not ashamed of the stories or of myself at all. In fact, I realised how the 7-year old me, without any barriers in my mind at all, just had the simple idea of scribbling down a story filled with unfathomable mysteries and super-genius detectives.

I didn’t know who was going to read my stories. I didn’t care if my words were unintelligible. I didn’t mind that my stories weren’t entertaining enough. I simply wanted to write. It was that pure motivation of wanting nothing out of it that got me started.

That’s probably the reason why I prefer the old school way of writing with pen on paper. How easy it was to just pick up a pen and start writing down my thoughts, in comparison to my mind being filled with inhibitions every single time I try to write now. This self-imposed stress really eats me away, and discourages me even before I can write a single word.

The ‘Creative Genes’ Theory

One of my greatest barrier is this theory that I’m afraid of. I’m sure some of you will join me on this ongoing theory about ‘creative genes’. I’m not sure how true it is that some people are blessed with the ‘creative genes’ since birth but i suspect there’s some truth in it (research has apparently shown that it might be hereditary). In any case, I simply know that I’m lacking these because I’m just drawing a blank whenever I think of new story ideas. I feel that if my stories aren’t creative enough, then I will finally have to admit that I might really not be a creative person after all and that’s just so sad to me. So my best plan was to not write at all.

There goes years of not writing the things I wanted to write at all.

Unexpected Blessing

Call it crazy. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself either. A lucky turn of events and I have had the fortune to reconnect with my old pal after all these years. Through some blah blah blah events that’s too long to explain (maybe i will explain in the future), I actually became a writer at a creative agency. Not entirely a writer, I still have other important roles but writing takes up a big part of my job daily. Writing word after word daily, learning about writing techniques and reading articles about writing ‘forced’ me to fall back on what I know about writing and pushed me to get even better at it. That’s what made me rethink this whole idea of writing and re-examine what writing really means to me. Hence this article.

To me, writing should be a way for people to express themselves, get their thoughts flowing and simply enjoy this beautiful thing that is words and language itself. It’s truly a privilege to be in a world where there’s words for us to articulate and understand one another.

So here’s 3 ways that we can overcome our writing barriers together.

  1. Write first, think later.

Whenever I’m trying to find an excuse to avoid writing, I will just tell myself to write something first. ANYTHING. I basically don’t even think about what words to use and just leave the thinking part till later. Trust me, it would totally feel so much better that you have let everything out and you actually feel productive seeing that chunk of writing in front of you, even if it’s not up to your expectations yet. That sense of productivity would motivate you to carry on. After which, you can proceed to edit your sentences.

Here is the part where you might doubt if you will ever come back to your writing ever again but let me share with you a tip that I’ve read in some books to draw people back to their writing. That is when they leave their piece of article unfinished. Even if you know exactly how you should write or modify your article, leave it unfinished, because humans find it hard to deal with the lack of closure. When a matter is unfinished, they have this gnawing feeling that it needs to be completed. That suspense will keep you coming back.

2. Accept that it is OKAY to write badly.

Do not expect yourself to be a writer with impeccable writing skills right at the start. We always imagine ourselves writing the perfect article but it takes a long way to get there, and it’s absolutely okay to embrace the process because writing is a journey, not a means to an end. It is a journey of constantly learning about vocabulary, choice of words and writing style etc. With each piece of writing, we are one step closer to writing what we imagine to be a perfect article. Not that I believe in writing the PERFECT article anyway.

3. Understand WHY you are writing.

What is the thing about writing that attracts you to it? What makes you want to write in the first place? Sometimes, we get so occupied with our negative thoughts that we forget the purpose of writing. Writing could be a way for you to use your unique voice to share your thoughts with the world. While some people might say that we should be writing for others, I believe that writing is also for ourselves. It could be as simple as being an avenue for you to rant. That’s it. Any reason is absolutely fine but understanding that reason is important when we need to remind ourselves that unnecessary worries are meaningfulness in light of our purpose.

Honestly, why should poor writing matter when all you want is to express yourself?

So with that, here I am, ready to write this new chapter of my life. Wish me luck!