Start from the middle

Author: Dr. Ibraheem Dooba.

The best way to start writing is from the middle. Why? Because the beginning is the most difficult part of writing. You agonize how to start and what to say and where to start. So by not starting from the beginning, you are eliminating the most difficult part of writing.

It could also be argued that the beginning of many activities in life is the hardest. Fortunately, writing affords us the flexibility that is not available to other things. In writing, you have the freedom to begin wherever you want – at least during the first draft of your writing.

Other aspects of life do not afford you the flexibility to start this way. For example, you can’t start your education from the middle. And except you are a royal, you can’t start your career from the middle. But writing is different.

You can start anywhere you want – even from the end. Yes, there are people who write their conclusion before they write any section of their piece. I was reading one writer who said it “is poetic” to start that way. But I suggest you start from the middle of the body of your paper, article or report. You can add the introduction later. There is at least one reason why you should do this.

Most of us know what to write – we know a lot. The most challenging part is finding the words with which to begin. And because we can’t find the words, we procrastinate. If you write from the middle, however, you eliminate this problem.

Let me give you an example. If you want to write about a simple way to export ginger, in your first draft, start by describing the steps. If you want to write a research article, don’t start with the introduction, instead, begin by describing what you did or the experiment you conducted. When you are done, add the introduction and the conclusion. Therefore, this is not a presentation hack, but a productivity tip.

Even fiction writers have been advised to start their stories or novels in the middle. Indeed, there is a book for fiction writers with the same title.

Epics literally start in the middle or at what is called medias res.

“Even in ancient Greece,” Brian Wasko wrote, “writers understood the importance of gripping the reader right off the bat. That’s why epics employed the convention of beginning a story in medias res. This is a Latin expression meaning ‘in the middle of things.’ Epics rarely begin at the beginning.”

But your article is not an epic. Neither is your report or other non-fiction writing. So I’m not saying that you should discard your introduction. No. An introduction is one of the most important parts of your essay or report. What I am suggesting is that when writing your first draft, begin with the body and write the introduction later.

Try it out the next time you are writing. Start from the middle.

– Dr. Ibraheem Dooba

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