What To Write When You Don’t Know What To Write

On Sunday morning, I got up early with a plan. I was going to get in an hour or two of writing, call my gran, and then set off for a day of adventuring.

I was feeling chipper as I bounced out of bed and popped the coffee on. The sun was shining, the living room bright and breezy, and I was ready.

I sat down, opened my computer, and then… crickets.

Nothing. Nada. Nix.

It was the perfect set-up, and I had imagined that the words would just flow blissfully out onto the page. But alas, it was not to be, and suddenly my perfect plan was in jeopardy.

And so I thought, “Right. Fast Write it is.”

Years ago, when working with Marcella Allison on this book, she taught me way of the Fast Write. You set a timer for 5 minutes, then let your brain just blather all over until it settles on something you want to pursue.

If you really have no idea where to start, write this:

I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.

Eventually you’ll get sick of that and something else will pop up. Then you can just follow your stream of consciousness until you get into a groove.

Works every time. There has never been a bout of writer’s block so great that this hasn’t prodded me out of it.

As time goes on, I feel more and more that the key to writing is not overthinking.

It’s about being willing to write drivel for a minute or five, letting yourself scribble without judgement of how it’s going, and then being curious enough about where it goes to follow without putting the brakes on.

The most important thing is just to start. So if you’re feeling stuck today, grab a timer — the clock on your phone will do. Set it for 5 minutes, and see where it takes you.