Back to Beginnings



Beginnings are exciting, and I’ve already mentioned that I have a lot of them ahead of me. Beginning of postgrad life, beginning of work, beginning of moving out on my own… but the most important of them all is that, for me, tonight is the beginning of a new book.  My new project is something I’m more excited about than I’ve ever been for a project before – partly because I love the idea, and partly because I know so much more about writing, about crafting stories, than I ever have.  That’s what happens when you spend time working at something, you get better.

I’ve written about beginnings already.  I’ve talked about how they’re sometimes the hardest part, how getting up and starting something, getting into a routine, can be difficult.  But beginnings can be exciting too.

Sometimes beginnings can be easier than anything else – we’re free, we can start from scratch, we have no constraints, no thousand pages of notes to keep in our heads.

Beginnings are fun.  I’m not the kind of writer that jumps right into the story, but at the same time I’m not the kind that sits down and meticulously plots something.  I like to think about my concept, the premise I have in my head, the theme of the story and the characters that I’ve already thought of, and just let the ideas come.  It’s really just a free pass to daydream.

For me, beginnings are about thinking, about writing furiously, about listening to music that’s way too loud, pacing around and daydreaming about what might happen, about all the possibilities.  During beginnings I chug coffee (which I do all the time anyway), I pace around, I go out.  Beginnings are about leaving a night out with my friends for half an hour because I’ve just been struck by lightning and have to write something down before I forget it.

Everything gets hammered into an outline, characters, and themes to remember later.

Needless to say I’m excited to start.  I’m excited to spit out jumbled ideas, words that I’ll look at when I have to take the mess and turn it into a plot and ask, ‘What f***ing idiot wrote that down like it was a good idea?’  I’m excited for the moment that one of those jumbled ideas to lights up, and becomes one of the best parts of the story.

How do you feel about beginnings?  Are they daunting for you?  Do they excite you?  How do you begin a book, or some other project?  How do you get your ideas, then turn them into something more?



14 comments on “Back to Beginnings”

  1. Beginnings freak me out sometimes. It usually takes me several drafts to be content with the beginnings of my stories. Once I start cranking in a draft that’s when i feel at ease, but the start always bothers me. at first.

  2. I like this post very much. I especially agree with you on the excitement that comes with knowing you’re a better writer at the start of this story than you were at the start of your previous story. I just started brainstorming on a new project yesterday, and I was so excited to get working on fleshing out the initial ideas that I could hardly sleep the night before! I too, enjoy beginnings and not yet being constrained by a mountain of notes. May your beginning last long enough to savor (but not too long!).

  3. I absolutely love new beginnings. Perhaps to a fault. I recall being unhappy in relationships and ending them only to start new ones almost immediately. I remember failing at my first attempt at art school and instead of persevering, going to another one and starting over from scratch. An obsessive form of perfection that just can’t be applied to reality and everyday life. So now I’ve grown to appreciate beginnings but also try hard to see (as many as possible) things to the end. Your post reminded me of the joy of my struggle, the accomplishment of finding the end; because for me, beginnings are easy.

  4. Beginnings can be a time of joyful anticipation of the journey to begin or a time of angst of stepping into a new and therefore uncomfortable situation. Overall, the perception of the one making the journey will determine whether there is fair winds and smooth sailing or gale winds and crossing seas. May you have the wisdom to set your bow into the waves and let the wind take you where she will because in the end she will win anyway and it is more enjoyable to let her have her way. God Bless.

  5. The beginning is one of the best parts of the process. It means I have a long, exciting journey ahead of me. That is where I get to throw ideas on the page and see what sticks. The beginning is where we get to let our imaginations explode before we have to go back with the editor’s knife.

  6. I loved when you said “It’s really just a free pass to daydream,” because that has been so true for me. In the early stages of working on my novel I have been daydreaming of it as a movie plot and grabbing as much of the visuals as I can. The beginning to me is the fabrication of your world like in Narnia when Aslan breathed and the world began to unravel for darkness. That’s how I think of the beginning, the dark void and then as your ideas come they from your world, your characters and they begin to breathe and live in your mind. I love it and that quote.

  7. Liked your article very much. I also love beginnings. Being a rebel, resisting all suggestions of planning etc. I love to just start, exploring the simultaneous joy of writing and absorbing the story with very little idea where it will take me or where it will end (yes I know as a teacher I should really follow the set forms!). There’s a wonderful freedom of discovery, as with Micheal Angelo’s premise I feel the story is there just waiting to be set free and I’m as excited as a child with a new and mysterious toy to be unwrapped. Of course this leads me to end up with a lot of editing to do, but I’ve learnt to enjoy that also. Happy beginnings!..

  8. Beginnings are exciting, but endings are satisfying in a way a beginning can’t be. That feeling of setting down the pen (or stepping away from the keyboard, or the sewing machine) and thinking, “it’s done” and, “I made that” – can’t beat it. Assuming you can tell when it’s finished, of course…

  9. Some beginnings can be really scary but if you stick with it you could have an awesome experience. As much as beginnings matter, I don’t believe it’s the most important.

  10. Beginnings are by far the most daunting because there is a whole world open to you at first. You start with a single, wonderful idea, but narrowing down where you go from that idea is the hardest part. At least, it is for me.

  11. Your article struck a chord in me. As a writer who has only the most basic, daunting experiences with beginnings and no experience with middles or ends yet, reading this has been a boost of motivation and insight that I didn’t know I needed.
    Thank you for the great advice!

  12. I’ve just this minute post about beginnings, myself. 😀 I agree with you, beginnings can be tough. They are important. You have to convey so much, and quickly, too, to catch the reader’s attention. It’s from there that everything else flows, so a different beginning can change the feel of the whole book.

    I pussyfoot around always with beginnings. My endings are fine, they are usually worked out in advance, but beginnings are something else again.

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