When you are given a Question to Answer, the writing process happens so much more naturally — and the reason is because Questions provide two things: context and audience.
A blank page has neither.
Let’s say you want to write about the process of waking up early, pouring yourself a cup of coffee, and writing. For whatever reason, this is what intrigues you.
With a blank page, there are so many places to start, so many roads you could take.
This is what makes a blank page so intimidating. There is no singular idea or even general direction which you’re sure will do justice to the simple idea you have in mind to share.
Don’t start with a blank page then.
Write a Question at the top, preferably from the perspective of your ideal reader. What’s confusing them? What do they want to know?
We can tell a lot about each other based on the Questions we ask. Questions reveal wants, needs, desires, and even underlying insecurities. But more than that, Questions give you an idea of who is sitting in the audience. The moment you know who you’re writing for, the words begin to flow on their own.
Questions provide direction.
Now you know who is sitting opposite you in the quiet coffee shop where your creative subconscious writes. As you go along, ask yourself, “Do any of these details add or subtract from Answering the Question being asked?” This becomes your feedback loop, every idea and sentence weighed against a clearly defined audience member.
So, before you write a single word of your story, your essay, your column, your article, ask yourself, “What Question does the reader have that I’m here to Answer?”
Write that at the top.