I’m on day 4 of writing a book, and do you know where I got stuck?

How to start it.

I spent my first writing day feeling very lost about how to start a book. I have an outline. I have chapter titles. I even wrote seven chapters in July.

But, I sat staring at an empty screen and wondered how I should even begin this book.

I walked away and:

  • cleaned my kitchen
  • replied to some emails
  • sorted a linen closet
  • thought about starting a business for distracted writers to clean other people’s houses

I came back to the page and thought; “you teach this stuff. You help people to write resumes which are less fun to write than a book. How do you get them started? What do you tell them to do?”

That helped. I said, “start with a story, of course”. I did and the writing has been flowing.


If “start with a story” does not spark anything in you, I would suggest some of these:


  • don’t worry about the order. Last weekend I was working with my daughter on a play she is writing. We talked about how it would end (her writing struggle is endings) and then tried to work backward. She shared some scene ideas and I wrote them on index cards. Then we shuffled the scenes around until they made sense. The order doesn’t need to come first.


  • if you can, avoid looking at your current or previous job description. It often quashes creativity and makes you think you should speak like a job ad.


  • don’t worry if it is useful. One of the biggest challenges people have with my Career Stories Method is that some of the first stories they come up with are never used in their resume or job interview. I call those root or discovery stories. They are still valuable and useful because they help you to understand your awesome, they just aren’t stories we tell anyone else. Some of the things I am writing for the book are going to be cut out. Going through the process opens me to write about other things I might not have access to otherwise.


  • study other people’s writing. One of my favorite writing exercises at University was to write a play or story in the style of another author. I’ve been flipping through non-fiction books to see how people pace out chapters or start chapters. I try to emulate them. Is there someone who writes in a way that draws you in effortlessly? Copy and phrase of their work and study it. What are they doing with the words? Why does it make you feel heard? Try writing a story in their voice.


  • talk it out. Sometimes the words don’t come out written, but I have them in my head. I push record on my phone and talk about an idea. Then I listen to it and type out the usable stuff (and leave out all the ums and likes).

Wishing you a smooth beginning if you’re working on anything new right now