Starting a story is hard. I personally struggle greatly with beginning. The two main things that stop me from putting anything down on the page are my need to create the perfect story and my depression.
My depression is what stopped me from writing for two years after graduating college. I was so burnt out from pushing myself so hard through college despite the depression that once I no longer had to turn writing assignments in, once I no longer had deadlines, once I was no longer working towards a grade, I had no reason to keep writing. I thought it was time to take a break.
I thought about writing a lot during those two years. I wanted to start. I came up with so many ideas. But I could never get anything down on the page. I would tell myself I didn’t have time or energy, and I probably didn’t have the energy. I definitely had the time, though.
Something changed recently. I don’t know what exactly. I just really wanted to write again. I started listening to the writing excuses podcast (which is great, by the way) during work because I can at least surround myself with the discourse while doing other things.
To get around the fact that I cant start anything, I have pulled out my old advanced fiction writing text book and begun doing the exercises in it.
The one piece of advice I always return to when writing is this: “The only thing the first draft has to do is exist.” Really, the first draft can and probably should be super shitty. A shitty first draft is better than no draft, and you can always fix it in revision. Just get the story down on paper first, then think about making it better.
For those of you with depression who are unable to write right now, I feel ya. I’m here for you. Hang in there.
For those of you writing with depression, what advice do you have to offer others?
And for everyone, what tips do you have for starting a piece?