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A well timed shot of whiskey can work wonders for the jittery, neurotic mind.It’s the shock to the system that works for me, so when I can’t start, there are alcohol free alternatives to get things flowing: a cold shower, an underwear clad run up the driveway, a shot of espresso, a peek at my naked wife, the list goes on. By this I mean I created a word document named “My Novel”, hit save and then got drunk with friends.

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Like a flea market or garage sale, let ideas feel cheap, light and easy to throw around.If you can’t get started, your psychology is making the challenge bigger than you can handle. It doesn’t matter what the words are, but get them down. The voice in our heads is always saying something, so put it down.Thinking of the book, the chapter, the page, the paragraph, is all too big if while you’re thinking, the page remains blank. It can be any word, but you have to choose it, and put it down. Write the lyrics to the song on the radio, the names of people you’ve slept with, your favorite Dr. Once all the magic muscles in your little fingers get going, you’ll soon find yourself, in between rounds of one fish blue fish, writing some intelligent things. Return to the unit of writing anyone can do, and build up again. Writer-weenies call this free writing, implying something unfortunate about other kinds of writing, but I find it easier to think of as listening. I’ve found that if you tell bartenders you’re a writer, after they stop laughing, they’ll happily chat and occasionally give you free drinks. Perhaps I’m insane, but I talk to myself all the time, and sometimes I even like the answers.Writers often write about writing[3], a trick few arts can follow; so reflective motivation from writers is easy to find. Do you imagine Olympic sprinters wake up and immediately sprint around the house?Of course not (unless they drank too much the night before). I imagine what things the finished work would answer, how it would do it and I write it down.No one performs well without easing muscles and emotions into place. Sometimes responding to e-mail works because hey, that’s a kind of writing. Maybe revise something old and unfinished to get warm. Not that I know how to fill them, but what might good section headings be?

My ritual is to type in quotes from good books I’ve read to get the fingers in rhythm and my mind thinking good writer thoughts. List making is never as threatening as “writing”, so go there first (There is no shopping list block, is there? I kick the list around for awhile, changing, moving, shuffling, and then once it has critical mass, I put in a document and go.

While it’s true that good voice, tone, rhythm, ideas and grammar are essential to good writing, they’re never introduced all at once.

I promise you, the first draft of Strunk and White didn’t follow Strunk and White. Anyone who wrote yesterday can write today, it’s just a question of if they can do it to their own satisfaction.

This means when people can’t start they’re likely imagining the polished precision of the finished work.

That vision makes the clumsy junkyard that all beginnings must be, impossible to accept.

If you can do that, new work will get off the ground almost on its own.