How to get the first words on to the page

Instagram post – photo of young woman at a laptop looking frustrated.

Writing always looks straightforward when you see it from the outside. Think of an idea, sit down and start writing. But what if you have already tried that and it did not work?

One of the struggles with building a regular writing habit is that the words on the page do not always match the words in our heads.

It is easier to increase the amount of words that you write once you get used to what your words look like.

How do you write at the moment?

Look at what you do most, do you write with a pen on the page or do you text? If you are used to either of these methods then opening a blank word document on a laptop is going to be an unfamiliar experience. ‘Blank page’ syndrome kicks in and either your brain goes totally blank or you do not think your idea is worth typing onto the blank space.

Starting with a familiar method means you are less likely to think it looks ‘odd’ when you read back over what you have written. For me, one of the hardest parts about writing is reading what I have just written and realising that it is not as good as I thought it was going to be. 

But accepting this and continuing to write anyway is how our writing improves.

Girl holding iphone in her hand Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Writing fast and loose

Free writing is where you just write about your idea without editing as you go. So, whatever appears in your head you write on the page. You do not have to use full sentences or correct grammar. It can be difficult because it requires letting go of any thoughts of being ‘right’ or doing it ‘properly’.

This is how you develop your voice and how you discover what it is you want to write about. You are writing about the topics and ideas that stayed in your brain long enough for you to put them on the page.


Doing this regularly is important. When you get used to seeing your thoughts on the page then you can start to become confident in your ability. Journaling is a useful way of getting through the thoughts in your head to free up head space to create.

Negative or angry thoughts make it difficult to be creative. Getting them down on paper gets them out of your head. It frees up space for other thoughts. It also helps sort through why the angry feelings are there. Maybe the source of the anger could be fuel for a story idea.

These steps are only the start. The next step is where you decide what to keep. But getting words onto the page, any words, is a very important step. The only way to the top of the mountain is by starting at the bottom.

Action Steps

First, decide on your method for writing down your ideas – pen and paper, notes app on your phone, word document, voice messages. Nobody else needs to see the start of the idea so focus on what works for you.

Second, decide on what you are going to write about first. It might not be what you end up writing about. You might start with how you feel about dogs and end up writing about footpaths. 

Third, try and make it a habit. How often is up to you. It could be twice a day or once a month. There is no wrong, there is only what you want. You might realise, like I did, that life was just a little bit easier if you are writing at least every second day. If I let it go any longer than this, my stress levels increase and I am just not pleasant to be around. 

So, focus on getting started and celebrate the words that make it onto the page.

More reading on Words on the Page

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How to start writing: 16 tips to overcome common writing problems

2 Comments on “How to get the first words on to the page

  1. This is Very good Claire. In my small group Patrice encouraged me to get my books (that’s in my head) done and published and your “How To Get Words the First Words onThe Page” is JUST the kick in the pants I need to get started.