How to get started writing

Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? The topic or the audience?

For most of us the topic comes first, at least in a general way. There is a message we want to convey or a piece of a message that is important to us and we believe will serve our ‘tribe’ or community.

As we pinpoint the audience, we hone in on a specific aspect of our topic to write about.

How do you get your book or info product written?  By picking up pen and paper or sitting at your keyboard on a regular basis.

“Start with a word. A word leads to a sentence, which leads to a paragraph, which leads to a chapter, which leads to a manuscript, which leads to a book….. just start with a word!”
― Mark Pettinger, The Decalogue

Take some time to review the topic you want to write on and then start writing. Schedule regular time to write and stick to it. Initially the important thing is to write.

If you can’t think of anything to write, take a sentence and write it over and over until something else comes to mind to write about. Once the pump is primed, so to speak, it is easy to delete the words that don’t advance the topic.

If a blank piece of paper or a blank screen is too intimidating, consider dictating your first draft. One tool you can use is  or  Sign up for a free account, call the conference line, set it up to record, and just talk. There doesn’t have to be anyone else on the call in order to record it. After you hang up you will be sent an email with the link to download the file.

Another option is to use a digital recorder.

If you decide to record your first thoughts about your topic, I suggest that you create a brief outline before you start, breaking your topic down into different elements or steps. Create a new file on each sub-topic.

Once you have your recorded files you have several options for converting them into text files that can more easily be edited. If you work regularly with a virtual assistant (VA), you can send your files to the VA to be transcribed (she listens to the file and enters your dictation into a computer file for you).

If you don’t have a VA you can go to or and hire a transcriber through one of these services.

You can also prepare your own text files by listening to the recording and typing the material – either directly or doing some initial editing as you go. You can play the file back on the recorder or on your computer and type it yourself.

There is a free program you can download that will let you use your computer like a dictation machine of the past. It allows you to adjust the playback speed and easily repeat part of what you are listening to or move forward quickly. Google the words Express Scribe to go to the website. You can also purchase a foot pedal to make it even easier to move forward and backward in your file.

An additional tool that will speed the process of creating your first draft is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This is a software program that converts your speech directly into text using your computer’s microphone or a headset. It does take a little while to train Dragon to recognize your voice and the way you pronounce some words, but once trained it will save you a lot of time.

Whether working with pen and paper, computer keyboard, or doing dictation, the important thing is to follow Mark Pettinger’s advice. Start with one word and watch the others follow. Eventually you will have your book ready to share with the world.

What has your experience been like in getting those first words down in writing? Share your comments below.

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