"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop." ~from Alice in Wonderland
If only things were so easy. But then again, aren't they? It is only our crazy thinking that makes things like writing complicated.
I started writing my novel, Love & Hysteria, yesterday.
I can't tell you how to begin writing your novel, as there are so many ways, but here's the path I took.
I pulled out my pink notebook, the one dedicated to L&H, and wrote down a song lyric I heard the day before (it sparked something). I started from that lyric and told myself that, even if I didn't want to use any of what I wrote as the beginning later on, at least I was getting something onto the page.
I wrote a little in my notebook from my main character, Eva's point of view (it's diary style). I...she...wrote about hearing those words, the ones from the song. Then I skipped to the end of what I think the First Act will be, when everything changes in Eva's comfortable world.
I've given myself permission to skip around.
Today I opened Scrivener and typed out the stuff I wrote yesterday. I wanted to write fresh material as well, so I skipped back to the beginning and had Eva write about the first day she went to the asylum (where my story takes place). I described what she saw and felt.
To help get the words flowing I put on an instrumental playlist in Spotify. I almost always have to have music playing in order to write. Usually instrumental. This playlist/radio station was created from the song "A Sky Full of Flowers" by Jeff Bright Jr. All the songs are melancholic piano tunes. Perfect for my story's mood.
I'll tell you that both yesterday and today I was afraid of beginning. More so yesterday. Today I just wanted to tune out, maybe take a nap, but a larger part of me said, "Cassandra, the longer you put it off, the longer you won't have a completed novel. No regrets."
I took my computer to the bedroom, sat in front of the fan, and wrote. Not thousands of words, but I wrote and that's what's important.
If you're having trouble starting, my advice is to just do it. Begin anywhere - with a lyric or quote or the smell of roses. Begin with a feeling or a place. Begin with music playing. None of it has to mean anything and can be chucked out later. The point is to get you going. And it's much easier to keep going once the wheels are up.
Baby steps. No regrets.