“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Walt has a point, but it’s easier said than done. For many of us, getting started can be the hardest part of any project. “It’s the start that stops most people” — this is one of my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert’s sayings and how true it is! We’ve all been there. In
fact, a KWD reader just sent me a note asking about how to get going on a project when there’s no external consequence like a deadline goosing you along. A great question.
Why is it so tough to shift our writing motor into gear? Sometimes we have just the wisp of an idea and we’re not sure there’s enough to work with, so we let it fade away instead of developing it. At the other extreme, sometimes we have a big idea for a story or novel, and it seems too ambitious, too overwhelming, to tackle, so we give up before we start. Or maybe it’s just an issue of resistance and momentum: The natural tendency to stay at rest has to be overcome. Or as Walt says, all talk and no action.
How can we crack this nut and move ahead in our writing? A few ideas:
Start simply: The bigger a deal we make about a project, the bigger a deal it becomes. If we can give up the need to invest it with huge amounts of angst and the drama, it can be easier to get going. So keep it simple. Start small. Instead of opening up a computer document, try buying an old-fashioned composition book for a few bucks and just start jotting down any ideas or scenes that come into your head. Keep it with you and when you get another idea, jot it down. Keep going.
Start anywhere: Sometimes trying to begin at the beginning can be a show-stopper, because we don’t know where the beginning is: We just have the glimmer of an idea or a scene. Grab whatever comes and run with it. Don’t worry about having a beginning
or even an end. Sometimes starting in the middle actually helps.
Start short: Use the “15-Minute Rule” to get going . This is one of Rob Gilbert’s* most popular tools for good reason: it works! Commit just 15 minutes to working on something. You’re just dipping your toe in, but taking action. Taking action breaks down your resistance and gives you the momentum to keep going once that 15 minutes is up. Why
not apply The 15-Minute Rule to something that you’re finding it tough to tackle? You might get immersed in your work, find your flow, and be off and running.
Starting is hard. But not starting is even harder. So let’s break through and all write on!
* Check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s wonderful Success Hotline at 973.743.4690.