Writing: No How

One of the biggest hurdles to writing, for this author, is asking myself questions that begin with the word, “how”? How am I going to start this? How am I going to finish it? How am I going to figure out what happens next? How am I going to write anything at all?

Recently, I wrote my very first short story. But I almost didn’t because I kept asking myself how?

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of how is: in what way or manner; for what reason, with what meaning. With that definition in mind, “how” equates to a stumbling block.

We don’t want stumbling blocks in our lives, if we can help it. Especially not the kind we create ourselves. Stumbling over our own two feet or hands or even mentally is no fun. Neither is getting stuck on how to do something. We need to look around for stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. For instance, rather than asking, “How am I going to do write anything?”, ask, “where can I look for ideas on what to write?”

I was clueless as to the topic to write about in my short story. But I did know where my setting would be: Boston. So I scanned Boston news headlines seeking breadcrumbs that would lead to a solid story idea. It worked. I discovered that Boston police headquarters has a diverse group of officers and a talented pool of cadets. That’s all I needed to create the characters to populate my story. Then I read about drug busts. Hmmm. I’d never written about drugs, so I decided now was the time. Once again, instead of asking “how” anything, I pushed on and read more news headlines. They were stepping stones that led to another idea. Soon I had the seeds of a story circling around in my head. I sat down and glued myself in the chair behind my laptop. Every time the word, “how” popped into my head, I shoved it away. After a lot of shoving and pushing aside, I’d written nearly 5000 words. All because I’d gone on a “how” fast. It felt wonderful!

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x