OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND ONTO THE PAGE! How to start writing your stories :)

Almost everyone I’ve ever met has stories in their head that swirl around and around and won’t give them any peace, until they’re told.

Certainly, most of the people I met in my recent tour of Far North and Outback QLD had stories that they needed to get out of their heads and onto the page. 

Writing these stories out and playing with them, using the techniques of fiction to transform the way we see them is a powerful way to get these stories out of our heads – for good! And BONUS we may even create something beautiful from all that pain. Because usually those stories that won’t let us rest are stories about the hard times.

But how to start?

Write a list of the stories on the top of your head – you know the ones.

What stories do you want to tell? Set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many dot points or titles or other words that will remind you of these stories.

  • Write another list. What stories do you NEED to tell? Write for 5 minutes or until you’re done.
  • One more list. This is the scary one. What stories are you afraid to tell? If everyone was dead, if no one ever read it, what stories would you be brave enough to write?

Okay, now you have a list, your head should already feel a bit lighter. Lists are great for taking mountains and turning them back into molehills again. 

Have you got a story about a car you used to have?

Now take your list and a pile of index cards and write one of your story ideas on each card and put them in a box.

  • Set aside some time each day for writing. It doesn’t have to be long. Participants in my workshops know that it’s amazing how much you can write in five minutes. Start there. Pull out one of your story cards, set a timer and write. Five minutes, 10 minutes. Start small and grow the time gradually. We can all spare five minutes, right?
  • Write as fast as you can, don’t stop. We call this free-writing. Just write. Forget about sounding fancy or poetic or writerly, just get down the story as if you were telling a good friend all about what happened. Spelling and grammar and punctuation really don’t matter at this stage. Just write like a fury and get that story out of your head!
  • Write all the way to the end of that story. Chip away at your story a bit each day until you reach the end of that bit. If you find it’s taking a long time, then consider breaking that story idea up into smaller chunks. For instance, instead of writing “CHILDHOOD” on your story list, be more specific, eg: my first bedroom, time with grandma, the bad day, my favourite pet, the secret. Break it up into little manageable pieces.
  • Don’t look back! New writers (and more experienced writers too for that matter) often make the mistake of going back over the first bits they’ve written and spending ages trying to make it perfect. NO! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!! Just keep going forward.
  • Pick up a new card. Write a new story, and another and another, until your pile of cards is gone.
  • Writing is rewriting. Once you’ve got all your stories out of your head and onto a page, many pages, then you can go back and add specific sensory details, make sure you’re writing in scenes and order the pieces for narrative drive. But if all that doesn’t make any sense, don’t worry. Just get those stories written down. You’ll become better at writing just by doing it regularly. You may notice when you start putting your stories together that there are gaps. Fill them in. But not all the boring in between, day to day details, just the important things we need to know.
  • JUST START! YOU CAN DO IT!

If your literacy skills aren’t great, don’t worry – use the dictating feature on your device. Some of the best story tellers I know aren’t any good at spelling. It doesn’t mean they can’t spin a good yarn. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get cracking on those lists and let me know how you go. I have lots more hints and tips for writing on the website. Or drop me a line and I’ll do what I can to help.

Write like a fury!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

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