If film and TV shows are to be believed, most writers are inspired geniuses who effortlessly craft literary masterpieces at their keyboard while sipping coffee (or something stronger) and dealing with hair-raising real life dramas.
In other words, superheroes.
Unfortunately, 99.9 percent of the time writing is more like pulling teeth than leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
The good news is that the most difficult part of writing is starting. It's those first few hundred words that get you, but if you can get those out, you'll find you have the power to keep going. Here are some great techniques to help you get that momentum started.
1. Try to write terribly.
Most writers fear that what they produce will be awful, so why not go with it? Convince yourself that your first draft will be terrible, and realize that, in fact, it's fine, because terrible is a great place to start.
You see, first drafts aren’t meant to be read. They're not supposed to be perfectly polished and completed documents. Remind yourself of this and just start anywhere. Aim to make your writing the plainest, most boring that it can possibly be, and it will almost certainly be a rough draft that isn't so bad after all. The most beautiful pottery starts with a lump of clay.
2. Lure yourself with treats.
Many writers like to have munchies or something to drink while they work. But if you allow yourself to have these goodies without simultaneously holding yourself to produce something, you'll just end up with a full stomach and a blank document.
The next time you're struggling to get started writing, choose a treat you really love. Make sure it can be doled out in bite-sized pieces. Some good examples are popcorn, chocolate chips or small hard candies.
Now, set a word-count goal. Decide on a small number like 25 or 50 words, for example. No matter what you write, once you complete your desired word count goal, give yourself a piece (just one!) of the prized treat and continue on. Soon, you'll be flying.
Of course, if your ultimate goal is to write a 60,000-word novel, avoid using this technique throughout your entire project, or you'll risk becoming terribly ill. Use treats to get started and then natural momentum will kick in to keep you going.
3. Visualize yourself talking to someone you feel comfortable with.
Writing is much like speaking. You're corralling ideas in your head and delivering them to an audience.
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to speak than it is to write? And it's even easier when you're chatting with someone you feel completely comfortable with.
Take advantage of this ease by visualizing yourself talking with someone who doesn't make you nervous at all. Your mom or a best friend are good people to use.
No matter what you're writing about, imagine telling or explaining what you want to say to this person. You can even mouth or speak the words out loud if you like. Then, simply type out what you'd say. Chances are, it will sound natural and fluid just the way you want it to.
4. Forget the rules.
Finally, be as far from nit-picky as possible. First drafts are a happy writing place where normal rules don’t apply. Use sentence fragments. Spell however you like. If you need to know what year the Civil War ended, just give it your best guess.
Finding writing momentum when you're nervous, anxious and would rather do anything than sit down and type means forgetting the rules and just plowing through. Give yourself a free pass, and don't worry about making errors. In the end, you’ll have a rough draft to work with. And in writing, that's the superpower that matters most.