Write Start: Practical Advice from Savvy Authors

See if you can spot the cliché. He's struggling at his desk, sucking down a cigarette and a large coffee, scratching at his whiskers, and suffering the tyranny of another blank page. Didn't take long, right? He's the archetype of a struggling writer.

Whether it's a typewriter or a laptop, cigarettes or a smoothie, 'he' or 'she,' the struggle remains the same. At some point most writers will face this struggle, the furious and paralyzing reality of squeezing perfect ideas into imperfect words.

We at Signature feel your pain, so we've spent the past few months asking forty-plus authors to share their hard-earned writing advice to remind you you're not alone. For the month of January, in the spirit of new beginnings, Signature will be spending each day celebrating the craft of writing by giving you all the basics to get started.

Spanning genres, backgrounds, and styles, these authors have given us a goldmine of good habits and encouraging words. From writing rituals, to secrets in overcoming writer's block, to tricks in engineering the perfect opening paragraph; if one piece doesn't inspire you to start writing, another will. In the words of one author, echoing the famed advice of another: first things first, if you want to write, start with your ass in the chair.

Are you there yet? Good. Now, sometime this month, if the spirit moves you, start applying Signature's Write Start tips. Pick a piece of writerly advice at random and give it a whirl. Paste Magazine is hosting a writing contest alongside Signature's Write Start series, calling on writers (ahem, you) to pen the opening lines of a story, any story, in seventy-five words or less. All you need to do is cite which piece inspired you to write, submit your entry, and voila -- you're in the running for an iPad mini and a bundle of good books. (More importantly, you've got the seeds of a good story.)

So join Signature and dozens of Write Start authors as we go behind the books and learn how to prepare ourselves when the blank page beckons.

Series Highlights

Jan. 5: Brad Taylor on That Dreaded First Page

Jan. 6: Andy Weir's 4 Tips for 'Breaking the Seal'

Jan. 7: Maggie Shipstead on Writers' Little Moments of Unlocking

Jan. 8: David Levithan on [Insert Strong Title Here]

Jan. 9: M.A. Lawson on the Writer's One Control

Jan. 10: How to Tap the Energy by Emma Campion

Jan. 11: Write a Shitty Draft, by L.Y. Marlow

Jan. 12: Jo Baker on the Natural State of 'Outsiderliness' in Writing

Jan. 12: Jennifer Clement on Developing Voice

Jan. 13: Elena Gorokhova on the Compulsion to Write Her Heart Out

Jan. 14: Gabrielle Zevin on the Evolution of Process

Jan. 15: P.J. Brackston on Allowing Yourself to Write Badly

Jan. 16: What Makes a Writer? by Charles Todd

Jan. 17: Do the Opposite, Says Brock Clarke

Jan. 18: Get Going with These 6 Tips from Rebecca James

Jan. 19: Charles Baxter on Opening a Story the Right Way

Jan. 20: In the Middle of the Night, by Amanda Eyre Ward

Jan. 21: The Secret to Getting Started (and Finishing) by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

Jan. 22: Daniel Galera on Letting Story Ideas Stew Over Time

Jan. 22: A Fail-Safe Solution to Writer's Block, by Michael Christie

Jan. 23: Antonia Murphy on 'Crudsuckers' and 3 Wise Writing Words

Jan. 24: Mary Pilon on Library Cards and a Free Pass to Be Curious

Jan. 25: Rafia Zakaria on Writing as Conquest and Rebellion

Jan. 26: How Writing is Like Time Travelling, by John Marshall

Jan. 27: Write Then Edit, by Michelle Tea

Jan. 28: Alexis Landau on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers

Jan. 29: Lisa Gardner on Starting with the Technicalities

Jan. 30: Taylor Stevens on Overcoming Writer's Block

Jan. 31: Una LaMarche's 4 Tricks for Self-starting