Charlie Laidlaw is an author and tutor at Creating Writers

Many of us want to write a book but don’t know where to start.

We’re not sure how to write characterisation or how to move the story forward in a way that will engage with readers.

We also know that there will be a lot of blank pages to fill.  Hours and hours of hard slog.

My advice is to change your mindset.  Recognise first that writing a book is a marathon rather than a sprint.

Sure, it will take a long time, but most of life’s dreams aren’t fulfilled overnight.  Don’t rush.  Write when you can.  Maybe only 30 minutes a day, or every other day.

Don’t set targets of writing 1,000 or 2,000 words every day.  By setting targets you’re also setting yourself up for disappointment.  Most of all, writing should be a pleasure!

First idea

Instead, be realistic.  You may have work, family or other commitments.  Don’t let writing dominate your life to the exclusion of everything else.

But maybe you’d like to write a book, but need to find that first idea.

My advice is to think of an over-arching idea, from which other ideas can flow.  For example:

“A divorced woman travels to the Highlands of Scotland and rents a spooky house haunted by the ghost of an 18th century priest.”

“A dead woman is found in secluded woodland with a mysterious letter in her hand that predicts her murder in uncanny detail.”

The great thing about having an over-arching idea is that it settles itself in your mind.

Once you have that idea, other ideas can flow around it.  Your story will begin to take shape.

As I’m forever saying, inspiration only comes in small chunks.  Get the big idea fixed in your mind and then think who will be in your story.  What is the relationship between them?


In other words, it’s a process of filling out the gaps in plot and character and, believe me, one idea will lead onto the next.

But many writers need to kickstart their writing careers, and that’s where we come in.

Creating Writers has two creative writing courses, an introductory course and our flagship Diploma course – with a real qualification at the end of it.

They’re intended to give you the confidence and skills to understand what makes great writing.

The fact is that nobody is born a doctor or plumber.  These are people with skills that have to be learned.

So it is with creative writing, and we can give you the confidence and skills to pursue that writing dream.

For more information, you can contact us here.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash