A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” — Sidney Sheldon

For many writers, producing words from thin air, an empty page or blank screen, seems like an insurmountable barrier to ‘writing’. If you suffer from blank-o-phobia, here’s the good news:

You don’t have to start with a blank slate!

Here are 7 effective ways to get your writing motor running:

1.  Use Your Bullet Point Notes as Writing Prompts—Connections, especially unexpected connections, add levels of meaning to each of the things individually, create a larger context that unites both things, underlines your point-of-view and are often funny. Bullet Points become a way of generating your own writing prompts.

2.  Start Transcribing Someone Else’s Material—Typing the other writer’s words gives you a running start and momentum to launch into your own material. This tactic, a variation of ‘steal from the best’, is recommended by many writers, including Steve Martin, and is basically the foundation of musical improv. You’ll erase or so distance yourself from the launch material, you may eventually even forget the jumping-off point.

3.  Transcribe Your Hand-written Notes Into a Computer File—Details, moments and characters add up to scenes, sequences, ideas for chapters and storylines. Themes, ideas and storylines eventually spark more scenes, locations, characters, moments and details. As famed writer / therapist Dennis Palumbo says, “Writing begets writing.”

4.  Transcribe Your Previously-recorded Audio—You probably won’t even get to the end before you start rewriting the language and clarifying and / or adding ideas. If you don’t get any really useful material out of it, you can probably learn something about how to be more articulate out loud next time. If nothing else, at least now you can delete the audio file.

5.  Writing Out Loud (Private)—You might be at your most natural, and often most articulate, when you’re trying to explain yourself to someone.

6.  Writing Out Loud (Public)—If you’re going to write verbally, I highly suggest bullet points but not word-for-word text to stage. With either form of writing out loud, even though you’ll probably never listen to it and you may cringe if you do, you must try to record it.

7.  Improv by / with others—Maybe you can find others who are willing to play with your material or topic. But remember to take careful notes and / or record it.

This material is excerpted from “How To Be A Writer Who Writes: Strategies and Tactics to Start and Finish Your Book or Script” by Greg Miller. Get the whole book for Kindle or any other e-book formats.