Finding the Words to Write

What a scary topic! Finding the words to write. Every writer’s nightmare at one time or another. However, have you really read the topic? It reads finding the words to write, not finding the right words to write. Ah ha, you say. Then you screw up your face and say, what? Let’s look closer at this.

When the idea for a story, essay, poem, or whatever genre you choose comes to mind, the last problem a writer deals with should be finding the right words. If every author waited for the right words to write, very little would be written. Charles Dickens didn’t come up with the beginning of A Tale of Two Cites by sitting down with pen in hand and miraculously writing “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” It is more probable that Dickens came up with this final beginning after working through several rough drafts.

Beginning writers and even several veteran writers can easily waste several hours, days, weeks, even months and years trying to fill that blank page with the right words. Instead, try this the next time you sit down to write:

1. Write your idea at the top of the page.
2. Write your vision of what the entire work may look like at the end.
3. Start writing your ROUGH DRAFT using one of the following prompts, a variation of, or another one you come up with on the spur of the moment:

It was the last time......
After hours of contemplation, s(he) made the decision to....
The only thing to do... 
It wasn’t as if anyone had been hurt...
Once upon a time (don’t laugh, some great stories started this way)...

4. Make notes when you need to add additional details, dialogue, whatever. Don’t stop and do this now. 

5. Once you have completed that first draft, put it aside and reward yourself.
You have accomplished something very few people can do. You have written a story, an essay, a poem.

6. In a couple of weeks or even months, pull out the manuscript and start the hard work: Finding the right words.

Remember, in order to come up with the right words to write, a writer must first have written words. David Michael Kaplan (1997), writer and professor of English at Loyola University Chicago, says it best in his book Revision:  “[The] only purpose [of the first draft] is to get the story told, out and down on paper, imperfect and strange and disorganized as it might be” (p. 34). Editing is for refining word use, adding literary conventions, putting in description. Writing is hard enough without demanding that you write perfection the first time.

Cheryl Carpinello
Guest post by Cheryl Carpinello. Although a retired teacher, Cheryl Carpinello still has a passion for working with kids. She regularly conducts Medieval Writing Workshops for local elementary/middle schools and the Colorado Girl Scouts. She is not the only one who loves Medieval Times and the King Arthur Legend. The kids thoroughly enjoy writing their own medieval stories complete with dragons, wizards, unicorns and knights!

She loves to travel and her other job is with a major airline. Her favorite trip was a two week visit to Egypt with her husband that included traveling by local train from one end of Egypt to the other. 

Some of her favorite books include The HobbitThe Lord of the RingsThe Once and Future King, and any by the duo Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

You can find out more about Cheryl Carpinello, her books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow Cheryl Carpinello at
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Carpinello’s Writing Pages

Publisher Website:

The World of Ink Network will be touring both of author Cheryl Carpinello’s Middle Grade Arthurian Legend books, The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table)published by MuseItUp Publishing and Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend published by Outskirts Press throughout January 2013.

Some stories become legend while some legends become stories!

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit   


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today!

  2. Hi Cheryl, I never thought about it that way. Good post for both newbies and veterans.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. Great post! I definitely got more writing down once I decided my first few drafts didn't have to be any good. TFS!

  4. Thank you Lorrie and Michelle for stopping by. Writers need to be kinder to themselves!

  5. I love reading all of the great ideas that you have here and have the site bookmarked. On another writing blog that I read recently (Courage 2 Create), he basically said the same thing, only a little more bluntly. He said that you have a choice: "you either don't write or you give yourself permission to suck!"
    I appreciate all of the good advice that you give to all of us.



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