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#54 Writing Hacks, Part 1: Starting Scott Berkun

I use this hack as follows: when stuck on project A, including not being able to start, Ill joyfully switch to project B, thinking Im pulling one over (on myself of course, but even the idiocy of self-delusion is tolerable to the acid misery of returning to A).

Nonfiction often starts for me as bulleted lists. I imagine what things the finished work would answer, how it would do it and I write it down. Not that I know how to fill them, but what might good section headings be? Eventually I had enough material to psyche myself up for the dive back into My novel as it wasnt a blank page anymore. Smart writers have stockpiles of old ideas to arm themselves against the evils of the blank page. By this I mean I created a word document named My Novel, hit save and then got drunk with friends. The next day, terrified as I was to return, I created a second document, called My Novel notes. And remember writers like making names and overthinking things: there is no term for architect-block, painter-block, juggler-block or composer-block. Every creative pursuit faces similar pressures, but they dont obsess about it the way writers seem to do. Get their opinions on whatever youre writing, or throw them a bit of yours. Take notes about the conversation. Guess what? Youve started writing. Friends are too busy? Go to a caf or bar.

Sometimes its love you need, so go to your masters: Emerson, Fitzgerald, Orwell, King, get your nose into whoevers writing get you jazzed. Writers often write about writing 3, a trick few arts can follow; so reflective motivation from writers is easy to find. But 20 minutes later when I hit a wall on Project B, a wall that, by comparison, seems like the Maginot line, Im more than happy to return to A, even if its a blank page.