Starting anything new is hard. And the harder it is, the less likely we are to keep going. If you decide you want to run, never have before and then sign yourself up for a marathon, you are not really likely to succeed (trust me, I tried).
Or let me rephrase that, you can make your first race a marathon. But then you better give yourself a good 8-10 months of serious training where you start slow and build up until you can handle those 26.2 miles. Just like anyone and everyone else, you need to first be able to run a mile. Without pain. Without misery. Because if you hate that first mile, you may never make it past that.
And yet, when it comes to writing, often people begin with grandiose goals. And there is nothing wrong with deciding you want to write a book, and you most definitely can (and should), but that is not where you begin. And you don’t even begin with that first chapter, because unlike that first mile, it doesn’t really exist in and of itself. A chapter only works in the context of the rest of the book, so you have already begun with a task much greater than where you want to begin.
People are often surprised when they tell me that they want to start writing and I tell them to begin with ten minutes a day. And I mean ten minutes a day. Only. Put on a timer, take out your pen or laptop, and go. But when that timer goes off, I don’t care if you are in a groove or hit that perfect flow state and desperately want to keep writing--stop. Because if you stop when you want to keep going, you won’t hit that road block where you don’t want to start.
When you start small you get all of the benefits without the risk of burn out. You will experience the thrill of seeing on paper something that conveys your ideas, without feeling that you have run out of words or ideas. Ten minutes is an incredibly short amount of your day, but it is amazing what you can accomplish in ten, focused minutes.
Start with a writing prompt. Something small and specific where you can focus on one question or idea. Pick a prompt that will inspire you or help you work through a challenge. Feeling stressed or frustrated? Do a prompt related to gratitude. Feeling bored? Pick one that focuses on a dream you have that you have never dared share. Find something that will help you clarify and grow, and then write for ten minutes.
Those ten minutes will help you. They will change you. And you can sustain ten minutes a day because it is only ten minutes. So start small, as when it comes to writing, small is big. Small allows you to discover the joy and power of writing so that you can keep it up and keep building. And from ten minutes a day you will grow and your writing will develop and before you know it, you may just be writing that book. But only if you love the journey.