Un-official guide on “How to start writing today?”


I got lucky last year, not the best year to get lucky. But, I got myself two books on writing. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott and On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by the Stephen King, the one true king. I picked up a few tit-bits from them, few from the wise internet and here we are on a un-official guide to writing. No experts are here.

If you had an urge, a surge in mood, a longing to pen down your thoughts and you shied away. Let’s see what we can change in the mindset to cross the barrier. First of all it is is not easy to write, at least for me. Heck it is difficult to start anything new. The amount of resistance is immense. Let’s hack together at some of them.

Picking up Writing is just another habit. Benefits are immense. It acts as a guiding light when you start jotting down your thoughts, it becomes what actually needs to be conveyed. It acts as a milestone, what you were thinking at point X of your timeline about Y. It serves you to communicate better. Therapeutic, gratitude diaries anyone?

Start today, start now:

Go write your first words now. Let the thoughts flow. Confused on what to write. How about your day today? how about your week? How about the metro ride you slept through? How about your domain knowledge? How about a note to your future self? How about writing on writing a blog?

Start small:

Lets’ just write down a few sentences. Lets’ cap it to 3 sentences. Remember those mini assignments “Write 5 lines on cow”.

Lets’ try those.
3 lines on your favourite food?
3 lines on beaches?
3 lines on universe?

Making it small, makes it achievable. Like a toddler, we want to take the baby steps first. Get a feel, fall a few time and when ready go for it. Increase the number of lines gradually.

Don’t burn the forest:

There would be a tendency to go for it, put it all out on the paper. But, it will die down. What we want is a slow burning winter fire, when you stop before you burn out. The urge to write more will bring you back.

Build a streak:

Book a slot for writing. Start your calendar app and book a recurring slot for writing. This would be a dedicated window for writing. Bring it in your routine.

Read more to write more:

Reading more, apart from being the joy it is, helps in writing. When you read, try to trigger the analytics side of your brain. How X emotion was conveyed, how something was simplified to a point it brought you to say “WOW!”, how the character was build, how the ambiance was conveyed. Write in those side lines get a pencil when you read. Jot down your ideas in the book. Blasphemy! at start it feels like that.

Don’t chase perfection Done is better:

Remember Nike’s just do it. Follow it. Done is better than perfection. Perfection adds cognitive load it chains you. You keep seeking perfection and keep those words in your head to make it perfect. People are too busy living to point out mistakes or form an opinion of you based on what you write. If anything, people appreciate honesty. Don’t let these hold you back.

Photo by Michael Carruth on Unsplash

Split your writing in a 2 step process

  • Writing phase: Dump your thoughts don’t enter into the edit mode. Just keep writing. When you stop for editing you break the thought flow. Modern day editors are also not helpful with distracting red lines and auto correct suggestions. No wonder lot of artists are seen with typewriters or pen and paper to write in the movies.
  • Editing phase: Edit like you have not written it. Go over the documents mercilessly, removing what is not required. Remember all the good tools you learned while reading. Bring them here.


“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” -Stephen King

Why not let the expert break it down for us

Consider the sentence He closed the door firmly. It’s by no means a terrible sentence (at least it’s got an active verb going for it), but ask yourself if firmly really has to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between He closed the door and He slammed the door, and you’ll get no argument from me … but what about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before He closed the door firmly? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, isn’t firmly an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?
- https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/03/13/stephen-king-on-adverbs/

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” — Pablo Picasso

Carry a notebook

Start jotting down ideas when you get them or start taking digital notes. Build a repository of ideas and soon you will have a huge library to bank upon. Never underestimate the power of small targeted actions. Build a second brain.

In the end of it all, have fun. Keep it simple. Dive in. Keep it short. Don’t compare or give in to imaginary standards you build.

Just do it 🏃‍♂️ .



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