Blog of Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author, Jory Sherman. Get the latest information on his books, appearances and his candid reflections on writing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Many beginning writers have trouble starting a story, novel, essay, article, or poem. One of the principles I teach in my workshops and seminars is how to overcome this initial obstacle. In fact, this first step is so important that I usually begin my workshops with this simple task.

Everything has a name. A name takes much of the fear out of the unknown. In the first flush of creation, a writer may not know where he or she is going, or where or how the story will end. But, the beauty of naming a work is that you are laying the cornerstone for your idea.

So, I suggest that you open your mind and start writing down titles that might trigger the beginning of a story or suggest a plot, an idea, a situation that will interest you. Don’t censor yourself, but write down every title that occurs to you. Write them all on separate lines, all caps, if you wish, and think of each one as a title for your project.

Then, pick a title that is most interesting or intriguing to you.

For the purposes of this blog, let’s use the story as an example. But, the same "rules" apply to all forms of writing. I don't like to call them rules because they are not iron-clad mechanical formulas for writing. They are merely, at this point, suggestions that might help the writer overcome that first self-created obstacle to writing. At the very least, these suggestions will eliminate the fearful curse of the blank page.

Once you have a title, it should be easy to write a first line. If you have a short story in mind, then write the opening scene. Or, as some writers do, write the ending of a novel. Or, if you like, write a crucial scene that could become a pivotal point in your story. Or you may just wish to write of some incident in a character’s life that gives the reader an insight into that character. I have used all of these methods or techniques, and many more.

Once you have a title and that first scene, the story acts as a magnet. That scene and title set up the mechanism in the universe that is called "the law of attraction."

The process is much like breaking ground for a building project. If you can imagine that someone, or a corporation, buys a vacant lot. Next, someone puts up a sign proclaiming something "Future Site of Gizmo Corporation." Next, some folks appear with shovels in hand. In a symbolic gesture, these people stick their shovels into the earth and turn over dirt as the flashbulbs pop. The next thing you know, construction men arrive and lay the foundation. Before long, there is a tall building, or a store, or a house, perhaps, on that once-vacant lot.

The vacant lot is that first blank screen, or sheet of typing paper. The title is the sign proclaiming "the future home of..." And writing the opening scene is breaking ground.

The building happens because someone imagined a building sitting on that vacant lot.

You are going to imagine your story taking shape.

From that moment on, you are exercising the Law of Attraction.

Everything you need for that story, you will attract. You will draw into your conscious mind all of the characters, the storyline, the settings, the conflicts, the very essences that give shape and substance to your story.

Your building goes up and commerce begins.

It's just that simple. If you practice this law of attraction, you will never experience writer's block, nor be unable to finish a book, story, poem, essay, or article. Each line you write demands another and that next line demands the following line and so on. Each line you write acts as a magnetic force that pulls the following line onto your page.

It's almost like magic, and I continually wonder and marvel at the process.

But, the truth is, once you break ground, the building will go up. And, "once you build it, they will come," as Kevin Costner learned in the movie that made that line famous.

This is how I am able to write so many novels and offer a new story every month to subscribers to my Story A Month (

And, this was how I was able to write this blog in just five or ten minutes.


Post a Comment

<< Home