Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
There is one point I'd like to clarify here. This series of posts is not just for people who are writing novels or other books. It is for writers of any description - essayists, those doing creative writing courses, or any of the many niches for writing, photography or blogging.
When I was a sportswriter in the Eighties, I used to write a regular weekly magazine column in addition to my other reporting. And quite often the hardest thing to find was the first sentence. Doesn't matter how good the idea is; sometimes it's a struggle if you can't find the "perfect" first sentence.
All of which brings me to the next point. Don't fret if you cannot construct the ideal opening for a piece of writing. Now that I'm a "mature" writer (okay, I'm trying to keep a straight face here) I don't let that stop me. First sentence ain't happenin'? No worries, just start with the first thought that comes into your head.
As you write and the thought process begins to fall into place, you will eventually think of the elusive first sentence. The point I'm making is: don't sit there for hours, staring at a blank computer screen. If you simply start writing, you will spare yourself the frustration of a delay. And think how lucky we are. Writers can start anywhere and go back to construct the first sentence, but builders can't do that. They have to start with their foundation and build upwards.
We're lucky. We don't have to build a piece of writing in a linear fashion. We can build "bricks" of sentences and paragraphs in any order and just cut and paste them where they belong. If you feel like you've hit a brick wall, just take a detour and start elsewhere. It's the sort of freedom that few other professions have. Recognise it. And revel in it.
Finally, a quick thank you to Dan, who gave me a terrific idea. He pointed out that people visiting this blog for the first time might like quick links to the previous posts in the series. Good call, Dan. Here are the links to the earlier posts - Don't Drive Yourself Too Hard, Gotta Go With The Flow and Let Me Help You With That Book You're Writing.