Should be easy, right? I mean, you have a brilliant idea. You know it’s going to be the best book ever. So, you get settled at your computer, open word, and then…nothing.
Happens to the best of us. Just yesterday I was talking about having that very experience. Staring at the screen, waiting…just waiting.
Then, when the first words found their way to the screen, they were ‘Hey, Pickle.’
Not what I was expecting. And, not two words I would have ever written if my daughter hadn’t been chanting ‘pickle, pickle, pickle’ in the background, taunting her pickle hating best friend via facetime.
However dumb those two words might appear while sitting there, isolated from the story and taken completely out of context, the truth is, they made for a brilliant opener.
Not only did the words free-flow from that moment on, but those two simple words became their own little side-story, laced in all throughout the novel. By the time the book was published, readers everywhere were on #teampickle.
Now, in the event that you do not have access to a silly, childish argument about pickled foods, here are some other things you might find of help (and, also more practical).
Clear the clutter. If your desk is a mess, your head is a mess. Trust me on this.
Snacks. They help. If in no other way than shoving pistachios in your mouth somehow helps you feel productive even as you’re staring at the empty screen, writing nothing.
Let your mind wander. Think about your main character, what are they doing when they’re not really doing anything? Maybe they like to eat pistachios. Maybe they hate them. Maybe their pantry is empty except for an old ass bag of stale nuts. Maybe they’re contemplating if they’re hungry enough to eat them. Maybe they’re remembering that one time someone they hated in high school had an allergic reaction to them and nearly died, thus making it impossible to hate them anymore, because, well, the shame of hating someone for no reason will do that when they nearly die.
All this to say, write any words that spring to mind. Even if your first words are ‘I have nothing to say’, I almost guarantee you, it will prompt your characters to respond. The words will follow. The story will come to life. All it takes is that first breath. That first pulse. Doesn’t have to be strong.
It’s kind of like any dramatic hospital moment you’ve ever witnessed in a movie or on tv. That agonizing wait as everyone stares at the monitors, willing that blip to pop up. That’s literally all anyone wants. One blip and your happy ending is essentially promised. All is well. Life is present.
That’s your empty word doc. The blank white screen. It’s just a heart monitor in some fictional hospital room. Give it a blip. Any blip will do. Even if all the blip you’ve got is ‘Hey, Pickle’.