write write write Last week, I ended my column with the title for this week’s topic:

Step one to being a writer: Write!

That advice seems pretty straight forward. The kind of obvious straight forwardness that carries you with complete confidence toe-first into a brick.

Like most advice we’re given, the wisdom behind it is simple; the problem comes in the execution.

And while there are countless books out there offering tips on everything from how to get inspired and avoid writer’s block to the kinds of foods that promote creative thinking (which, judging from what I read, you will be doing mostly while on the commode), all of those books essentially come down to one universal truth:

Nothing promotes and stimulates writing better than…

You guessed it:

Excessive drinking.

But let’s suppose you don’t want to become an alcoholic? Does that mean you’re not truly committed to being a writer? Could it jeopardize your dream of becoming a novelist, columnist, short story writer or inner city tagger?

Let me answer those questions by answering the single most important question you’re probably asking yourself right now:

Has HE been drinking?

Of course not.

Yet.

I have four children, remember?

Regardless, my point is that the other universal truth to writing is this:

The fastest way to jumpstart the writing process is to put your fingers to the keyboard and just start writing.

I purposely sat down to write this column without any preparation. I did this to 1) challenge myself, and 2) because I really had no idea what I was going to write anyway, so it seemed like a good plan. To that end, I started putting words on the screen.

Did I take a wrong turn or two?

Absolutely.

Four, actually.

But the beauty of writing is that — like the Kardashians — nothing is permanent, and you can easily fix imperfections by injecting or removing the things you don’t like.

And many times, what you thought was going to be a wrong turn or dead end leads to a doorway you hadn’t expected — or at least a window you can jump out of.

Especially if you walk in on Bruce Jenner getting a body wax.

OK, in an effort to move on quickly from that image, how about a show of hands from anyone who has ever found themselves staring at a blank screen with their fingers poised over the keyboard, even if they have applied my advice?

Seriously, I’m watching, so get them up.

I ask this because, in spite of my advice, there are still times when you need to jumpstart your jumpstart.

Something I’ve discovered from writing a daily blog is that the interaction with other writers on blogs and websites — whether replying to a comment or leaving one on another writer’s site — is a great way to grease the creative process.

…Great, just when I had gotten past that image of Bruce Jenner…

Sorry, everyone.

Anyway, starting your day with some social interaction at your computer not only gets you into writing position at the keyboard, but can get the creative process started by reading others’ work, getting inspired by it, and formulating responses or comments in a creative frame of mind.

Warning: Set a time limit!

As I can attest, it’s easy to lose track of time, or become so caught up in commenting and replying that your momentum is carried in the wrong direction. I usually give myself until I finish my first cup of coffee.

Which, by the way, I have switched from the giant 128-ounce Big Gulp size to a standard mug. Not only because I was using it as an excuse to blog until noon, but also because I discovered my bladder only holds 120 ounces.

Bottom line, once you’ve established a writing routine (see last week’s column), solidify it by putting words on the page — whether for your actual writing project or during a social network warm-up — each time you sit down at the keyboard. Before you know it, your writing will be waiting for you in your mental queue at the same time each day.

Assuming you can get the image of Bruce Jenner out of your mind.

Again, my apologies for that.

Next week: What’s the big idea? Finding and recognizing story potential.

Ned Hickson
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Ned Hickson

Humor Columnist at Gliterary Girl
Funny guy Ned Hickson's weekly column appears in dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and Canada as a syndicated columnist for News Media Corporation. He writes about daily life and important social issues, such as glow-in-the-dark mice and injuries caused by overheated pickles. His first book, “Finding Humor at the Speed of Life,” will be released in October from Port Hole Books. Ned lives on the Oregon coast with his wife, four children, and entirely too many seagulls.
Ned Hickson
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Showing 5 comments
  • Bubble Gum
    Reply

    You’re funny. Here, there:(http://nedhickson.wordpress.com) and everywhere! Great advice for us writers. Will follow you here, too.

  • Valerie
    Reply

    LOL, I love your sense of humor.
    I find that this sit-down-and-write works very well for blogging, commenting, and journaling. When I have tried to use the same technique for novel writing (yes, I have ONE novel in my head – my daughter has 100, at least!) it doesn’t work as well. I go off in the wrong direction or I don’t develop the characters the way I had planned, and I just get frustrated. Any tips?

    • Sara O'Connor
      Reply

      Valerie, there are so many techniques to get a book started and get your thoughts focused. I wrote an article a couple of days ago about that exact thing. You know we also have a service that coaches writers. Anyway, take a look at my post from Sunday. http://www.gliterarygirl.com/blog/2013/02/17/so-you-want-to-write-a-book-creating-a-narrative-outline/

    • Ned Hickson
      Reply

      Sometimes having characters develop in a way you hadn’t planned is a good indication they are taking on a life of their own—which is a good thing! Kind of like raising kids. You want to have some influence over them, but watching them exercise their independence is the reward if they have a good foundation. If you have to guide them heavy handedly, something isn’t working.

      • Valerie
        Reply

        Very true! I guess the process has just intimidated me! (Much as parenting has, at times! lol) Thanks

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