Different writers deal with the question of how to get started in different ways. For legendary TV and film writer Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the time to start writing is after the entire idea has formed and been worked over in his head.
Picture by gageskidmore
I attended Whedon's talk at the Melbourne Writer's Festival last week and wrote up some of the more notable points for Gizmodo, but the remarks that struck me in a Lifehacker context were when Whedon discusses how he deals with the writing process:
Most of my writing is done on my feet, and then when it feels right I put it on the page. It doesn't mean somebody won't change it or I won't decide to change it but at that time it's the be-all and end-all . I don't like putting something on the page that I go 'I don't know, let's see if it works, let's see where it goes'. I have to know exactly where it's going, what I'm aiming for.
I write the moment that I'm dying to have and then the next moment I'm dying to have, so I always eat dessert first. I'll just write whatever I love and then I'll have enough done that I can do the expositional stuff, I can get there, I can do the boring work because I already have the big piece in place.
Whedon's longevity is testament to the success of that approach for him, but other writers get more done by having a large list of projects to work on or the right physical environment. One thing that's hard for any writer to escape is the conviction that a different project might satisfy them more. Asked what he wants to be doing in ten years' time, Whedon replied:
Let's see me taking a break, let's see me finishing that novel. I'd like to finish a book.