WriteAdvice: Getting started

I am of the firm opinion that the hardest part of any project is getting started.

I’m not talking about that first fevered rush of inspiration, where the whole world is connected and your ideas are pure genius and you scramble for a pen to get your brilliance down on paper before it’s lost—if that were the hardest part of a creative project everyone who talks about their book/movie/business idea would have done something with it by now.

No, I’m talking about taking your first solid steps to making your idea a reality, which are different for everyone.

Maybe it’s writing an outline for the book idea that miraculously came to you in a dream.

Maybe it’s pricing materials for your genius invention you jumped out of the shower to record.

Maybe it’s checking to make sure no-one else is making a movie about a robot chef who learns to love, laugh and cry.


Maybe it is getting those first words down on the equal-parts-alluring-and-intimidating blank page.

But taking those first, solid, probably-not-fun steps towards making your pipe-dream a reality? That’s the hard part.

For me, it’s editing. Writing is fun. All of it. I’m making up people and situations and worlds that aren’t real and I’m in charge of; I’m lying in extended literary form and I love it. But editing? Ugggggggghhhh. Hate that.

Pure grammar/spelling stuff I can do¹. It’s clarity of plot, theme and character that I loathe. There’s no reward when I’m done, is my issue. I’ve already done the ‘hard’ part, I’ve made something where there was nothing. Why should I do the boring stuff?

The answer, of course, is that it’s not done right if I don’t do the clean-up. Everyone would like cooking if they could use a million bowls and not worry about flicking bits of stuff all over the place or putting the milk back in the fridge. But you’re not going to be a chef (or even a successful dinner party host) if you don’t learn to finish the job.

Write up the business model, do the story outline, name your characters instead of referring to them as MC and coffee-shop-girl, self! Damn.

Even if it’s not perfect, do the work, and then do it again as many times as it takes. Edit, edit, edit. Refine your work. Make it better. You think this mess of an article was readable in the jumbly awful form it first appeared?

It was not.

Sad as it may seem, I not only write these things once, I write them a couple of times. Until I’m happy enough with them to put my (fake) name to them. And if that’s not success, it’s a hell of a lot closer than I was when I started. And that is honestly all I’m looking for.


¹The grammar may be questionable, but I can fake it well enough to make sure people can read what I write, which is good enough in my opinion]

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