Writing can be overwhelming. It’s like any other huge job. Getting a college or advanced degree. Cleaning out the garage. Getting your affairs in order, for when you die. All the advice books tell you to break it all down into small, manageable steps. Then take that first step. But, for writing, what is the smallest possible step? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- For a blog: Click on “new post.” The blank new post template will appear. Put words, any words, in the title space. Go from there. Remember, you don’t have to publish it. You just need to produce something.
- For a story: Take out a blank tablet or note pad. Place it in the middle of your work space. Come up with the name of a character. Any name. Start describing that person. Is this a character you can build a story around, or insert into a story you’re currently working on?
- For an essay: Ditto about the blank tablet or note pad. Jot down the ideas that obsess you, the ones that keep creeping back into your mind when you’re doing something else. For me, those ideas include: hunger; loneliness; hoarding; aging, and a few others. These are not necessarily issues that I’m dealing with myself. They’re just ideas that I can’t let go of. Then jot down all the words that you associate with those images. Can you build an essay out of that?
You may already have an idea of where you want to go, the story you want to tell or the novel you want to write. You may already have a great opening line or scene in mind. But if you don’t, the goal is to start somewhere, with something. You have to get those first words or thoughts down on paper or on the screen. This particular first step may not go anywhere. But without that, there is, will be, nothing.
This is similar to another article I read the other day for people struggling to start writing something. It was to tell yourself to just write for ten minutes. That’s your goal every day. Of course, lots of time when you start, you’ll keep going past ten minutes. But do not immediately make a new daily goal. Keep the goal to ten minutes. Using your ideas here plus the ten minute goal should do the trick for lots of people! Nice post, Lida!
Jan, the 10 minute rule is an excellent method, but honestly, some days even that is more than I can contemplate. So, I shoot for 5 or even 1 minute. Anything to get the action started. Then it usually starts to flow. I always enjoy your comments. Lida
Keep up those creative urges!
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Will do! Thanks, Lida
Yes! A great post about just getting started. Those tiny little steps do add up – but we’ve got to take them in order to make them count. All the tiny and large steps that end up staying in our mind never amount to anything. Great job, Lida!
Great point about those tiny steps that never seem to get out of our mind and onto the page. Very well-said. Thanks for reading, commenting and for the compliment. Lida.