Sophie Thun

How to start writing a book

Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

How to start writing: many people seek writing prompts or ideas for how to start a book.  A couple of tips, including: start today!

How to start writing?

How to start a new story or a new blog?  Many writers find beginning a new piece of writing an enormous challenge.

That’s not surprising when you consider that your first sentence, or first page, will define your story; be the shop window for your book; and decide whether your writing will be read.

Thus it is that when you sit down to start writing, you suddenly find that other activities – making a cup of coffee, checking the latest news, phoning a friend – suddenly take on a weird urgency.

Sophie Thun exhibit: how to start writing a book

Sophie Thun and writing

So I was intrigued when top Vienna-based artist Sophie Thun drew my attention to the catalogue of her latest work at the Vienna Secession gallery, entitled Sophie Thun (in German).

The catalogue consists of a dialogue between Sophie and 90 year-old artist Daniel Spoerri, a Romanian artist based in Switzerland, one of whose “snare” pictures I remember seeing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2019.  In the frontispiece to the book, pictured above in hard-to-read black-on-black script, Spoerri recalls a friend struggling with a book:

It was that he couldn’t find a beginning.  He had to have the first sentence before he could start.  I met him again and again in Ascona at the bar, in the evenings, and I would ask him and he would say: No, still not; no, I still don’t have anything.  

And then one evening he was suddenly very happy and said: Now I’ve started!

So I asked: This means, you found the sentence?  And he said: Yes, exactly, now I can write.

And what is it then, this sentence?

It was raining. 

Sophie Thun

The same text, in German, signed by Daniel Spoerri

Stephen Donaldson on how to start writing

The Spoerri text is spot on: funny, trenchant and accurate.  It reminds me of the quote by the writer Stephen Donaldson  I cite it in my post Writing tips: writing a book: plan in advance, or not?   Asked how to achieve success in writing, Donaldson replied “start today”.

Beating writer’s block

The thought of starting something intimidates many people, whether it is starting to write, or to redecorate the front room. My blog 5 ways to beat writer’s block explores ways of getting started.  They include artistic endeavours, writing prompts, story ideas, and other tips.

I enjoyed Sophie Thun’s show at the Secession, including a live feed of her studio and dark room (now finished).  Because of coronavirus, the artist set up a darkroom in the exhibition space of the gallery to make photograms of every item in her flat in the Stolbergasse – from toothbrushes to tools, and books – up to a maximum size of eight inches by ten.  In the contact prints, you can see her hands as white silhouettes.

“Seven Hotel Stories” as art

Because Sophie owns a copy of the first edition of my black feminist comedy Seven Hotel Stories (showing as author my pseudonym Robert Pimm) her photograms include an image of that book, below.  It’s thrilling to have my book become part of a work of art.

Sophie Thun

If you are interested in how to start writing a novel, tips for writers and writing techniques, please have a look at my writing tips category.

Finally, if you’d like to look at my own writing, you can find all my my most recent books here.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Sign up for my update emails

…and receive a FREE short story!

I won’t pass on your details to third parties / unsubscribe whenever you wish

2 Responses

  1. I recommend that you start reading books about writing a novel. i recommend you this book that im currently…house and i cant find it right now, good luck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Book published leigh turner
Writing tips

Publishing your own book: part 1

Publishing your own book on Amazon is easy, but you may find a bit of help useful the first time. A simple step-by-step guide to self-publishing.

Read More
Writing in Loutro
Writing tips

Resources for writers

Resources for writers on this post include how to write articles and blogs; how to write a novel; dealing with rejection; scenes, sequels and cliff-hangers; editing as you go along – or not – and a selection of writing courses for you to try.

Read More
Valide Han Istanbul

Slow publishing: a case study

Slow publishing is not necessarily bad publishing. Let’s look at how a Russian banker’s murder in 1993 and the Gezi Park protests of 2013 led to publication of my international thriller “Palladium” in 2022.

Read More

Diplomacy and the media

Diplomacy and the media can have a rich, mutually beneficial relationship – but don’t always. Diplomats should build media skills, too. This is a sketch

Read More