1. Get going

We are inclined to think we need all the answers before we make a start but I think the opposite is true. If we have a desire to write we should listen to it and trust that the act of writing itself will show us the way.

2. Start small

Think of an achievable thing that you can do everyday and then do it. The details matter less than the commitment. You could pledge to write three sentences/three paragraphs/three pages of your notebook every day for a week.

3. Have a beginner’s mind

Rather than getting cross because you can’t do everything perfectly straight away, try to enjoy feeling like a person who is learning something new. You may be clunky and stiff at first but, if you carry on, then ease and fluency will come.

4. Find your time

When setting up a practice it can help to do it at the same time because the brain likes regularity and routine. I like to write first thing in the morning and to make the most of what Virginia Woolf called the cream of her brain. But my friend Kit de Waal works through the night, which I just don’t think I could do. So experiment and find out what works for you.

5. Keep going

I used to get upset when I fell out of love with my work in progress. These days I know that writing a whole book is a huge undertaking and I expect there to be peaks and troughs, and to experience both exhilaration and despair. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is try to stay calm, feel amused if I can, and keep bringing myself back to the page.

About Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love a Sunday Times besterlller. Her latest work, Write It All Down is a searingly honest must read about writing, creative doubt and how to fill a blank page.

Cathy was our 2022 Memoir judge.

Our next memoir competition opens 15 June 2024, deadline 30 September 2024 and welcomes entries in English from anywhere in the world. Enter here. Happy summer!


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