How do I start my book?

let go and start writing

Where should I start?

What do I say first?

Have you asked questions like this when the thought of writing a book pops into your mind?

Oh, wait, if these questions are also why you haven’t started the process, keep reading.

Confession...

I’m sitting here right now struggling to find the first words to write for this blog post. I have ideas in my mind, but I can’t find the right words to start.

Wait, these are the first words for the blog. I did start. 

AND that’s the key; you just start writing.

Think about it this way…

Story ideas pop into our minds at the oddest times for a reason. Something is begging to be told.

You woke up from a dream, or you were out walking your dog, maybe you just baked your favorite cookies, or you needed to hop in the shower… and suddenly you can visualize a scene for your book.

If you’re reading this blog, that means you have a story idea right now, so you technically know how to start.

So why are we stuck on starting?

Let me share something with you...

Back in 2013, when I woke from a dream with a fun story idea for a romance book, I had no idea what to do first or what the first sentence should say.

It was easy to write the dream down because I could see it perfectly in my mind. Writing the rest of the book, though… was too hard.

When I think about my first book, it’s crazy that starting was so difficult. When the ideas popped into my mind, I had been reading a lot of romance books and watching tons of rom-com movies. 

Yet, the first time I sat down and attempted to write something for my story, it was hilarious. I can remember forcing words out. I just started making up random things.

Let me explain.

I think about the story I was stuck on starting, and I remember trying to force out words. Everything I wrote felt so odd. I even did this weird thing where I started the very first sentence of the book with something like, it’s early, and the sun is shining. Then I remember writing about how a side character was arriving at the cafe for the day on his bike.

Why did I think a book should start with the sun shining? 

That odd start continued, and I kept trying to write words I couldn’t see (and by couldn’t see, I was just making up words).

The story idea I had in my mind didn’t show anything about the morning, sunshine, or a side character on a bike. So why start there?

The simple answer, I forced words because I was stuck on starting.

The true answer is I didn’t let my mind create the words begging to be told. Instead, I started to build a completely separate story.

Here is something important to remember:

The story is already in your mind. All you have to do is stop and listen.

After writing five thousand forced words for a book that was never part of my original dream, I finally hit delete. I didn’t even attempt to keep a few of the sentences; I just let it all go. 

Are you still trying to figure out the first words for your story?

Okay, let’s do it together.

Let yourself think about the story idea right now. Do you have a clear picture of the story idea?

Good. Now tell me, what are the first words that pop into your mind as you think about the story idea? (Go ahead and write them down.)

Wait, did you write them down?

If you did, you also just wrote the first words for your story.

Every time I start a story, I see the characters talking. What I’ve discovered is that most of my books begin with dialogue. You immediately get a chance to meet the characters, and you start to find out what is happening or what they are thinking. Just cut to the chase and stop worrying about if the sun is shining or what the temperature is outside.

When my husband started writing his nonfiction about podcasting, he immediately started with who he was and why he wanted to write the book for you. 

I can already see a beginning similar to this blog post for my nonfiction book. “Where do I even start?”

Which takes us back to those questions at the start of this blog- Where should I start? What do I say first?

News flash: 

There isn’t an answer to your questions because everyone has a different starting point.

You could research your favorite books, read all the latest blog posts, and ask everyone you know those simple questions after searching through all that you may find your answer. The tricky part though, is it the answer YOU need?

That last sentence is essential... 

Did those resources give you the help YOU need?

Nope, and here’s why.

They are giving you their answers to their story ideas. You need to find your answers.

It’s your story, so create your path, not someone else’s ideas.

If you still feel lost, I’ve got you. 

Try this simple exercise:

Before I deleted five thousand words in my first book, I opened several of my favorite romance books and looked at how they started their stories.

I didn’t copy anyone. I just took a moment to research and find inspiration. Then I wrote my own words for my story.

We’re not reading books or blogs, just simply looking at the first sentence in a few books. That was your disconnect. What should you say first? Where do you even start?

Use things around you for inspiration. 

Then sit back and think about your own story and just write. Just start.

Whatever you write first will not be wrong. Plus, it could get changed on the fourth or sixth edit, so don’t overthink it; just have fun creating.

What is stopping you from starting?

Want more?

In our daily emails, I love to share stories about what happened in my day and then talk about how it all relates to creating a story.

Example: That time I used a coffee mug to serve wine and I worried about what my friends would say, OR the way my garden looked when we moved with all the layers of overgrown weeds. Yes, those moments are just like our stories and how we see or feel about them.

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