So, last week I asked "what kind of writer are you?" Are you a 'gardener' type who likes to plant a seed and watch it grow? Or are you an 'architect' type who likes to have a structure or plan to work to? We discovered that often the way you make can help you to discover what kind of writer you might tend to be:
Makers who design through making are often gardeners
Makers who make by design are often architects
Now, here are some tips for starting a piece of writing, depending on which type of writer you feel you might be:
How to start if you are a gardener
The Zero Draft
Gardeners might want to try the 'Zero Draft' approach. The Zero Draft is a way to get out all your ideas without any thought about structure, grammar or even making sense. It is something that only you will see, a splurge of words onto the page. You start writing and let you mind go wherever it wants. The Zero Draft is great for gardeners as it isn't constrictive; you will do the editing and tidying later.
What to do:
- start by considering - what is this piece of writing going to be about?
- write a list of questions you would like to answer and mull them over
- begin writing about your work - let your train of thought wander and explore
- if you get stuck or need a prompt look back at your list of questions
- once you have your text: look through it. Re-arrange sections that go together
- is there anything missing? Did you answer all your questions? Continue writing to fill the gaps
Tips for gardeners
Little and often: free writing
Because gardeners like things to be flexible and spontaneous, writing about your work regularly in a free and low-pressure way (ie with no deadline) will allow your ideas to flow. Try using the Zero Draft regularly so that you build up a store of writing ready for that deadline. Then, you can harvest your ideas and edit them when you need to write something specific (like an artist's statement or application).
How to start if you are an architect
Architects might want to try the 'Blueprint' approach. The Blueprint allows you to construct a framework for your writing so that you know exactly what you need to cover and in what order. The Blueprint is great for architects as it takes away some of the uncertainty of writing and lets you free up your mind to think about the making.
What to do:
- start by considering - what topics or themes do you want to cover? What sections will these become? Order them so they make sense to you
- write a list of questions you would like to answer. Which sections do they need to go in?
- begin writing - write responses to each question on your list
- once you have your text: look through it. Does it flow? Are there any sections that need a bit more work? Are there any questions you didn't answer? Are there any more questions you need to ask? Continue writing to cover everything
Tips for architects
Little and often: with focus
Because architects like a bit of structure, writing about your work regularly with a specific topic in mind will help you to get out all the ideas in your mind. Create a Blueprint that you can refer to: a list of topics to cover or questions to ask, which you can use as a guide. Then, when you have a specific piece to write you can see which areas might need a bit more writing or refining.
Of course, you may find that both approaches work for you. Personally I like to start with a Zero Draft, to just get a lot of my thoughts down on the page, and then I like to plan a structure, a Blueprint. I outline sections and think about what needs to go where. Then I cut and paste bits from the Zero Draft to see what I already have. Sometimes I find I've covered most things, and sometimes I need to do a bit more writing. In which case I might write only to answer the question or I might do another Zero Draft to generate more words. This back-and-forth works for me.
There is no right way or wrong way to write. The best way is your way, the way that feels easiest for you. The more you experiment with your writing you'll soon start to find out which approaches work best, and the struggle to get started will be that little bit easier.