How to Beat Writers Block

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Megan Jackson - MA Journalism, University of Roehampton

So you’ve got a brilliant idea for a book, but you don’t know where to begin. Anthony Cropper and Eve Makis, authors of The Accidental Memoir, share their expertise about how to get those initial words and ideas flowing. With these quick and useful prompts, you might just be able to start that book.

Starting With Yourself

If you’re writing a memoir, or even a novel, it can be difficult to know how to introduce yourself or your characters to the reader. Anthony and Eve say a good place to start can be thinking about where you come from, not geographically but in a more abstract sense.

To begin, think about the phrase ‘I come from’ and jot down all of the memories or things that conjures up. Start each new idea with ‘I come from“. Be specific to you, tell me about you and add sensory detail” says Eve.

This technique is particularly effective when you focus on detail. Anthony says: “Think big, what sort of house, then go smaller think of a camera lens going into the living room.”

By not over-thinking what to write, your memories will start to flow more naturally, you may even be surprised by what memories come to the surface. Later these fragments can be structured to give you one coherent piece.

Once you’ve tried that, have a go at the same thing but with ‘I remember’.

What’s in a Name?

Another technique in The Accidental Memoir asks budding writers to think about their names. You can start by researching your family name; finding its origins and what it means. Then think about your first name. Do you like it or were you lumbered with a name you think doesn’t suit you? What would you change your name to if you could? Do you have any nicknames?

By scribbling down information about your name “you may get the opening line for your memoir” says Eve. It will also help you to develop your voice- key in any memoir.