Many writers face the dreaded blank page with a blank mind, especially those who want to write a book and do not know where to start. I teach writers a terrific technique for never having to face a blank page with a blank mind. Here's my secret: Before you begin writing a book, make a list of all the major points you want to make. You may add to, subtract from, change, revise, reorganize, or even ignore the list later, if you want, but if you have a book in mind, start with a list of main points.
The best memoirs feature events and vignettes, rather than a litany of highlights. If writing a memoir, rather than listing a birth date, important dates, names of schools attended, or awards received, your memoir list might go like this:
Mother nearly dies giving birth to me in 1945
First day at grammar school in 1951, got lost in hallway
What I was doing when I heard I won the Lictersphincter Award
The day I met my spouse
The time I broke my leg
The events that led to my being fired from Jonston Company
Each event can then be written as a scene with action, dialogue, setting, setup, story, and resolution, which makes for much more exciting memoirs.
If you plan to write a how-to book, your list might go like this:
Skills needed to make a wingding
How to prepare to make a wingding
Problems to avoid
Possible solutions to issues that might arise
How to help the community with your new wingding
The same formula works for fiction. You could write a list of scenes or plot twists you plan to cover. Here's an example:
John meets Dorothy
Dorothy ends her relationship with Alfred
Alfred lies in wait for John
John hires a bodyguard who turns out to have his own agenda
Many people hate to outline projects before starting, but a list is not an outline. It is simply a bendable, moldable, changeable list to help writers avoid facing a blank page with a blank mind. After you have made such a list, whenever you sit down to write, you simply have to peruse the list and decide which of the subjects speaks to you that day. As a result, you are off and writing with ease.
No one ever said your book has to be written in the order that it appears. With today's technology you can start anywhere and later move things around to your liking.I faced a blank page this morning when I wanted to write my blog, but I think I'll now make a list of subjects I want to cover in future blogs. Wouldn't that be a clever idea? Why didn't I think of it?