How to Start Writing

Amanda Gorman

Lesson time 16:15 min

This lesson includes tips and tools to overcome obstacles so that you can begin the writing process.

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Topics include: How to Start Writing * Conquering Writer’s Block * Using Procrastination to Find Inspiration * Using Emotion as a Poetic Writing Tool


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Now we're going to talk about what it means to get writing and tools that you can use in that. Keep in mind that everything we're going to talk about here can be used throughout the writing process. So both in performance, in revision, and in creation, these are just some ways to get started. Writing is a really long, messy process. And it can be incredibly frustrating, angering, disheartening, but it can also be so gratifying, and exciting, and thrilling. The primary challenge I had when I was writing as a young writer was just getting started and believing in myself. There's this idea that you have to be published, and award-winner, famous to qualify as a writer, and it meant a lot to me as a young person to say, actually, there's no such thing as an aspiring writer. If I'm writing words, if I'm telling stories, if I'm showing up and doing the work, I am a writer, and I shouldn't be waiting around for other people to call me such. A book that a mentor gave me when I was really young that meant a lot was "Bird By Bird," Anne Lamott. And in it, Anne writes about an instance where her brother was really late to writing a report on birds, and he only had the night to finish it, and he was so overwhelmed. And his dad sat him down and said, just take it bird by bird. For poetry, I like to think of that as just take it word by word. Just put one letter, one word down on the page, and follow that with another one. When you show up to get started to write, one, just throw out that fear of, I don't have anything good to say, or I don't know what I'm putting down on paper. You can write gibberish. You can draw scarecrows. You can do whatever. Just get your pen moving, and then we can continue this journey of what it means to find your craft. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'm published, I'm a spoken word artist, and I get writer's block all the time. And what writer's block feels like-- you've probably had it before. It's horrible. It's just staring at your computer screen or a blank sheet of paper, and not being able to put anything down, or at least anything down that feels substantive. One of the biggest things that leads to writer's block isn't actually not having anything to say. It's being afraid to say it. It means that, as we stare at that blank sheet, we're worried about whether what we have to say is anything of value, whether our voice, what we're writing is any good. And that fear, that anxiety of the quality of what we're writing becomes this huge monster that stands in our way. And one of the best ways that you can knock writer's block down is, when you begin writing, we're not worried about the quality of our writing. We're worried about writing in general, or just trying to get words on the paper. As scary as writer's block feels, there really are ways that we can fight it. And it begins with thinking about how you're writing, the space you're setting up, and the culture of writing that you're ...

About the Instructor

Bestselling author. Electrifying performer. The youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Amanda Gorman has revitalized poetry as a unifying form of expression and catalyst for social justice. Now she’s teaching you her deeply personal approach to writing. She’ll help you find your poetic purpose, fight through revisions, and prepare for performance. Discover poetry’s transcendent power to open minds and create change.

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Amanda Gorman

Award-winning Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman teaches you how to harness the power of poetry to become a more thoughtful, compassionate person.

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