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You found a space, you've carved out some time, but that blank page is still staring at you and defying you to write something. Where do you start?

If the words don’t come right away — and they rarely do — play the scene out in your head:

  • Who throws the first punch?
  • Who leans in to kiss?
  • Where do they discover the magic sword?
  • What are the camera angles?
  • Whose eyes are we seeing it through?

Scribble down notes as you think (it might help to do this with a pen and paper, rather than on the screen). These notes are the building blocks of your first sentences.

If you’re more of a plotter, you may already have a good idea of what’s supposed to happen, but allow yourself to be surprised as you flesh the scene out.

If you’re not a visual thinker, then create a short shopping list of things you want to see in the chapter. For example:
  • Fred is late for work
  • Fred is fired from work
  • Fred pleads for job -- humiliates himself
  • Fred vow revenge on employers
  • Fred is bitten by a radioactive aardvark (cliffhanger!)

Then start joining the dots. It doesn’t have to be pretty. The important thing is to...

Get it Down/Fix it Later

One of the key things to understand when writing a novel is one day this will be rewritten.

You’re not going to nail this on your first draft, so don’t worry yourself trying. Get those words down. Ugly, clunky, misspelled words. Take the pressure off and put them on the page. They can all be finessed further on down the line. Throw clay at the potter’s wheel, get it roughly into shape and then at least you have something to work with. Once you’ve given yourself permission to write rough and ready, the writer’s block fades away.


Turn off your spell and grammar checker! Those little red underlines will distract you and tempt you to commit the mortal sin of many first drafters. What is the sin? 


Remember this… Fixing typos are for Second Drafts.

Only you will ever see this. Write like no one is watching (because they’re not). You will have plenty of time to tidy this mess up before anyone else ever sees it. It’s your little secret. The only thing that stops you getting the words on the page is you over-analyzing it and questioning everything. You’re the one who decides what ultimately goes out into the world.


Author and screenwriter Jo Ho, who can write 10,000 words a day (we don’t recommend that!): “Just blitz it”
Visualise the Scene – The Bestseller Academy