I wrote that title and have since then started and erased 3 different ways I wanted to begin writing this blog. And it’s a fitting irony to know that’s exactly what this blog is about. Doing some research, it was kind of nice(?) to find out I’m not the only one who goes through this. It’s common to not know how to start writing, regardless of how frequently you do write.
It’s a daunting process, coming up with the right words and forming the right sentences to make your content not just being good enough to take you forward with writing the rest of the piece successfully but also be worthy of interest for the reader to continue reading your piece further. That latter part is extremely important. The first few sentences alone that a reader comes across in anything you’ve written, from a blog to a story, can make the difference between whether the reader will keep reading or give up entirely.
All in all, it’s extremely important where and how you begin your writing process, but why can’t we get it done? And what will lead us to get a better result at starting the process of writing an introduction, even if we don’t become experts of it right away? I’ve tried to find an answer to these questions and written them down below for you to learn from as well.
Why are Introductions so hard?
So here comes my first question, why is writing something as basic as an introduction so hard? If anything, this should be the easier content, shouldn’t it? You know the topic you’ve to write about, you have a plot in mind, you know what happens in it, so starting it should be the easiest of all things; the conclusion is where you should get stuck, right? Wrong. At least for me. There are times I came up with the entire plot and its conclusion yet the only reason I never wrote the story is that I couldn’t come up with a proper start to it. A bit extreme, I know. But that’s what happens with a lot of people who initially start writing. And why does it happen? Here are a few things I could come up with in that regard, based on personal experience.
It’s probable that you might be overthinking the entire writing process before you’ve even begun writing a single word. As soon as you come up with a good content idea, there’s a high chance you start brainstorming every piece of information you have on the topic and then get too overwhelmed to work on it before you’ve even gotten started on writing it.
Too Much of a Perfectionist?
There are times when we delay writing or just procrastinate for weeks on-end only because we can’t start with something that fits with the entire piece. The problem here is that we consider it to be the final draft, instead of considering it a rough one. Everyone is afraid of being a crappy writer, but most people get so scared they don’t even begin out of the fear that they will do it wrong, without thinking that they can actually edit it later and change the things they don’t like. This perfectionism is where most writers give up instead of trying to actually better their content and end up not starting at all; the thought that whatever they’re starting with isn’t good enough compared to the idea they have in their heads.
Confused about Where to Begin
Most writers, like myself, feel confused about where to actually begin. What should be the opening sentence, if you’re writing a story, what should the characters be shown doing at any given moment and which character to begin with, if not the protagonist. At times, you have all the ideas in your head, you know the structure, you know the content but you just don’t know how to fit the content together or how to introduce it properly to build up toward the main body.
At other times, you have so much information available that it becomes too complex to start and then take the piece forward because you feel like your intro is too underwhelming or too out-of-flow to be part of an actual build-up. And this is where starting becomes too difficult and as this pressure keeps building, the process becomes more delayed.
You’re Not Asking the Right Questions
Most of the times, especially when writing for a client or another person, the biggest mistake one makes is not ask questions. This lack of communication results in a difference in vision for both the parties. And this leads to further confusion on where you should begin and ends up getting you frustrated.
What You Can Do
1. Start with your main body or conclusion
At times, it’s better to begin writing in the middle or at the end, i.e. the piece of content that’s inspired you to write on any particular topic. E.g. if you’re writing a blog on the disadvantages of social media, first make a structure of which disadvantages you want to highlight. This can not only keep you motivated to write but also inspire you to come up with an introduction and a conclusion to the content piece.
In some cases, while writing a story for example, you have just the right conclusion to how it should end, even when you don’t have a clear idea of the plot or the characters. In such situations, just begin at the end. Write the conclusion and let that give you an idea of what should be the main body and which introduction should go with all of it. Start at least somewhere, and let the rest fit into the context accordingly.
2. Start small and build up
It’s okay if you want to start small and then build up your piece from there. Even if your intro isn’t too big, if it properly leads to the rest of your content and fits with the main body of your write-up, it should be good enough. Intros should be just that, an introduction to what you’re going to talk about; they don’t need to have all the details of what you’ll be covering up later anyway.
3. Provide an incentive
One of the basic purposes of writing an introduction is to capture the reader’s interest in your content. You don’t need to make it too catchy or too cliche, that might end up disinteresting the reader altogether. You just need to make it informative and accurate enough to let the reader know your content has worth for them and they should continue reading it. To do this, you can share a few interesting facts about the topic in the one or two beginning paragraphs so that the reader has an idea of how informative yet fun a content piece they’ve stumbled into. And that is what will make them read further.
4. Allow yourself to make mistakes
Nothing puts a stop to one’s writing process than the thought of perfectionism. Stop running after that perfect piece of content, instead, go with the flow. If you’re writing badly, that’s okay too. Get it done with and then make changes to it later. It’s normal to feel disappointed when an idea that sounds amazing in your head, becomes underwhelming and crappy once you put it out on paper. What shouldn’t be normal is for you to feel discouraged about writing at all only because you couldn’t come up with quality this one time.
Don’t waste time by forcing yourself to come up with something valuable. Just come up with something first and then you can spend time to changing it into making it valuable later.
5. Ask Questions
If you’re required to write for someone else, ask them the right questions to clear up all your confusions. Remember, and remind them, that you don’t live in their heads, neither can you read their mind. You need a better overview of how they start, what tone they use and which kind of content do they resonate with the most. Clearing up these confusions goes a long way to helping you come up with the right intros and content pieces.
6. Come up with the Opposite of what you dislike
If you don’t have a clear idea of what you need to be writing, do the opposite. The biggest fear is to write something you’ll hate. So, write something that’s the opposite of the style you hate, simple. Well, it’s not exactly simple but it at least sets you down the path of doing something right. If you hate cliches, don’t use them. If your biggest pet peeve is using catchy phrases, then take the route of not using them at all. If you hate out-of-flow content, write down pointers that you can easily connect later with adding just the right word or punctuation.
In the end, I can say this: it’s not easy to start writing. Even after years of experience in the department for a person, they will still find it hard to come up with an intro that will stick just right or do just the job they need it to. But that doesn’t mean you should stop writing all together. Hopefully all the tips mentioned above will be able to help you get on the right path, even if it seems impossible right now. Your main goal shouldn’t be the end result when you’re starting, your main goal in the beginning should just be to start. That’s what will take you forward.