Start Where You Wouldn't

Tools, tips, and ways to get the job done? I'm a fan.

One of my go-to writing tools, and something I use in my job several times a day, is starting where I wouldn't.

I never, ever start an article where it would usually start. Rather, I use sort of a "walk backward, leap forward" method.

Example: If I'm writing about an opera, I don't start with when and where Mozart wrote it. I walk backward, to what happened long before Mozart was born, to early stories that might have influenced the opera. Then I leap forward, to all of the things the opera might have influenced. And I start the story somewhere else, far away from Vienna and the composer's day.

It's obvious, right? But we're all raised believing the start is the start, and that's a hard thing to shake, even with practice.

This is related to another tool I use: make small big. Find a less loved element in the story and build the article out around that.

I type this here because A) I love sharing what works for me. I hope you can use this in your own life, either with writing or just day-to-day stuff. It's useful, once you regularly put it into practice. Try it out on a small problem that's been bedeviling you and email me if you need further tips. I'm FULL of advice!

And B? Of course I use this in the Wilfair books. Rare is the day when I start a scene at the beginning of a scene. Rare is the day I talk about an issue Fair Finley is having by starting with the issue itself. Rather, I start where I wouldn't.

There's a chapter I've been fuddling with, in my mind, but I've found myself avoiding writing it. So now I'm going to take my own advice: Start where I wouldn't. Sometimes that means just typing a single line of dialogue that might come later in the chapter, and building backward and forward from there.

Is there something you need to solve? Stop staring straight at it, is my gentle suggestion, and proceed to walk backward, leap forward. You'll gather what you need away from the nexus. Trust.

cr: rahego


Kelly said...

I totally do this, whenever I have to write something important or official. It's so overwhelming to start sometimes that I get stuck, and the only way to get around it is to brain-dump bits of other paragraphs I know I want to include and work back around to the beginning later.

And if I feel what I'm writing is a bit rubbish or silly, sometimes I have to get away from the computer altogether and grab a pen and paper to start jotting down sentences. I think it feels less official or something? Don't know why it works for me, but it does.

Wilfair Book said...

Always good to read what works for another person. And, yes, getting away from the computer is so important.

Actually, a 10-minute walk outside has a way of shaking stuff out for me, too.

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