Begin the writing now, but write the beginning later

I don’t care what you’ve heard; the very beginning is often a horrible place to start ‑ at least for writers.

Inexperienced writers may feel the need to write the first paragraph… first. The problem, though, is that this paragraph can be the hardest one; whether you’re writing a story, a letter, an essay, or virtually anything else, you need it to hook the reader and get your piece off to a strong start, so there’s a lot of pressure in the opening.

So skip it. Write the hook once your creative juices have had a chance to start flowing. Your hook will be better, and the reader will never notice the difference.

This has happened to you: You tried to remember the name of an actor, restaurant, or guy you went to high school with. You got frustrated and gave up. Later in the day, out of the blue, that name came charging to the front of your brain because there was still a piece of your brain digging through the archives to find that bit of trivia, even after you’ve stopped actively trying to remember.

A good intro to your writing can work the same way. Try to come up with a great hook. Can’t? No problem. Stop wasting time obsessing over it, and start writing the next part. Write the ending. Bounce around the middle. Just get writing.

At some point, when you’re in the middle of a body paragraph or a bathroom break, that hook you’ve been looking for will magically appear. Drop it into place at the beginning, adjust the rest of your piece accordingly, and you’ve crafted a smooth intro that was fashionably late but fit right in. Do it right, and your reader will never know the difference.

Case in point: I’ve rewritten the first paragraph of this blog post eight times. You never noticed, did you?


The Syracuse Pen provides writing and editing services for students, professionals and small businesses. Visit our home page for more information about what we can do for you.

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