A writing query

Start writing – whatever comes to mind. Don’t plan and stifle yourself (not yet, anyway!). This will probably not be at all what you find on your finished page. It will help to clear your mind, sort out your thoughts and find your own rhythm. Writing helps to clarify your thinking. What you see on the page at first will not necessarily be at all what your final result will be.
This will be fun. You will work hard and probably laugh a lot, and you will feel lighter in spirit – trust me !

A student asked me “How do you get what is in your head down on paper?”

What a good question.  How would you answer – do you have any clues for budding writers out there?

Catharine McKenty


  1. 1
    Jim Says:

    A novice writer who is having trouble getting started should take a blank piece of paper and write the following – “I am having a hard time getting started.” Now the writer has started. Also the first draft should be very simple i.e. use five dollar adjectives. Change them to fifty dollar adjectives in a later draft. Rotsa ruck.

  2. 2
    Vin Smith Says:

    …Writing is merely speech transformed into an alphabetic script. It can be more formal, but does not have to be. These days, one is often on solid ground leaning more toward colloquial writing than was the case thirty years ago.

    What does this mean in practical terms? By making a decision to use solid language while speaking, seasoning your speech with current usages, it then becomes a job very much like a translator working with two languages. After you have polished up your speaking habits, you do as my writing professor in college suggested: Put the paper in the platen and begin to type.

    The big difference today is we use word processing programs. The typewriter is on the shelf, and the program (I use Microsoft Word) helps you to correctly type on the screen what you are thinking. Technology has erased the major causes of writers block. Technology has provided us with the ability to quickly get our thoughts down on paper. Writers block, which includes the inability to get started, as well as finding yourself mired in writing muck halfway through, is largely a matter of mental perception–not unlike being tongue tied.

    Next time you get the urge to put something down on paper that you are thinking, just do it. With word processing, you can edit until your heart’s content–all without white out, scissors, glue and tape. What a marvelous world for the writer!

  3. 3

    Start keeping a journal. You know it’s only for your own eyes so you can write whatever you feel like. If you stick with it – even if you only write once a week or so, it gets to feeling quite natural to put your thoughts on paper. It’s not a big step then to begin writing for others to read.

  4. 4
    CateMcB Says:

    I remember the advice of a former thesis director: when faced with a mental block or any kind of slowdown, she recommended going for an enjoyable walk and talking into a tape recorder — no censoring thoughts — but simply letting the stream of consciousness unfold, and being open to whatever comes. This strategy also works in the shower – I’ve tried it. The key thing is not facing a blank sheet of paper or a blank screen, both of which may make blocks worse. Often, when I relaxed in this way, and before I knew exactly what was happening, the block had been replaced by lots of usable material. I would also agree with Jan that journalling is a great idea. Not unlike the role of the tape recorder, the journal functions as a container for whatever is going on in our brain. As long as we don’t self-censor, these processes can lead to interesting places! Enjoy!!

  5. 5
    Barbara Says:

    I find Cate’s approach to be good for me. If I am stuck, I put the writing project almost physically on the back burner of my mind and do something else — take a walk, a shower, thumb through magazines, whatever takes no particular mental effort. The words will eventually tumble into the front of your brain. When I am ready to begin a conversation, mentally, with my audience, I begin to write in a relatively uncensored way. I let it be for a day or so and then I begin editing. I have to be “in the zone” to write.

  6. 6
    Jeremy Says:

    It’s really a great and helpful piece of information.
    I am happy that you shared this useful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  7. 7
    Jean Says:

    Neil’s world… of words.

    Whether it was his radio or his tv shows and later the world wide web, he always had a profound way with words. There’s a man with no limits,no tabous when it comes down to talking to someone making them feel safe and open up to everyone’s opinion on different subjects.

    Human talk as I like to call it. Because after all it always comes down the same basic things no matter who it was on his show, politicians, environmentalists, sports person, doctors or a regular joe. (whats going on in your field of work.in your neibourhood) in our life. Making us aware of a bigger picture in our everyday life.

    Thanks Neil.


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