Writing: Start With One Word, Then Another, Then Another


Jan_Facebook_coverWhen people find out I write, they usually tell me how much they want to write too. I hear about their amazing stories. But, when I ask them what they have written, they inevitably say, nothing. Then they ask me how to get started. Once I handed a woman a pen and paper. She looked at me as if I handed her a diaper and said, fill it. I told her to write just one word about the story she wanted to write. She did so. I took back my pen and announced to her that she had just started her piece and I was proud of her. She looked at me again with such confusion I had to laugh. She asked, “Now what?” I told her that when she awoke the next morning she was to write another word in her story. I told her to do that each day until she had enough words to start putting them into sentences.

“How do you think writers start?”, I asked. Start with one word. Write about the weather, the texture of the blank page, the first smell of spring. It doesn’t matter. Write every random word you want to put in your story and string them together. There are many ways to start a book. But you can’t start anything without writing something. Months later she called to say she finally got inspired enough to finish the article about her father she had dreamed of writing for years.

When my nephew had his second child I began to write her a love poem in my journal for her. Then I thought that every child should feel loved and my ideas got bigger and bigger and I called a publisher I know and ran my idea past him. He suggested I send him something to look at and I did. He called me excited about it and soon the series Can You Find My Love? began. I just published the fifth book. I have sixteen written so far. You can check them out on: CanYouFindMyLove.com.

I write in my journal every day as a way to keep track of myself and to keep my ideas warmed up. Anything you want to do takes practice. I practice writing every day and have since 1972. Each of my twelve adult books started as small pieces in my journal on a page during an ordinary morning. You can check them out on JanMarquart.com. As ideas began to grow I kept my pen moving. I did not stop my thoughts to judge them. I just kept writing.

Not all writers start in their journal. Sometimes writers have an idea for a book and they develop that. There is no right way to start - but you must start. I have ventured into many genres because I love the process of widening the horizon of my writing to work into different structures. I have written self-help, poetry, fiction, kids’ books, articles, essays, short stories, and the strangest book I’ve ever written: a channeled book which stories had nothing to do with me. You can read more about it in the book’s Foreword. (Voices From the Land)

So the next time you think that you’d like to be a writer – get out your pen and write just one word. The next day add to it. And keep your pen moving . . . .


IMG_7610Jan Marquart is a psychotherapist and prolific writer. She has published 12 books for adults and 5 for children. Her articles, stories, poems, and essays have been published in journals and newspapers in the US and Australia. She facilitates writing classes for Story Circle Network and Life Learning Institute in Texas. She believes in the narrative of our stories and has helped many individuals since 1979 heal from emotional wounds. Jan can be contacted at jan@CanYouFindMyLove.com.