How to Start a New Project When [You Think] You Don’t Have Time

It’s a lot easier than you think.

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You and I (I’m assuming) are a lot alike. (Because let’s be real, you wouldn’t put up with me day after day if you didn’t at least somewhat relate.) I, like you, have ideas. I, like you, really, really want to turn those ideas into tangible Things of Awesomeness.

I, like you, am really good at coming up with reasons why Now Is Not a Good Time.

Because it isn’t. Not for a new writing project. Not for me.

And yet — it’s there. That relentless tug of an idea you know you can’t let go. I’m sure you know it well. It’s irresistible. Even though, logically, I know I couldn’t possibly drop everything and go after this call, at the same time, I don’t want to wait. And I truly believe there are moments in life when inspiration should not be ignored. It’s hard to explain how you know. You just know, in your gut. You just … feel it.

So here’s the dilemma you might recognize (yes, it even happens to people like me): having an idea, knowing you want to do something with it, but not knowing how you’re going to pencil it in (yet).

For me, right now, this is an idea I know I want to make a priority, sooner rather than later. So I’m at an awkward, exhausting, and frustrating stage of development in which I need to figure out how to move forward without knocking all the other important elements of my life out of line.

So today I took a step forward. I posted something in a blogging Facebook group, welcoming image ideas too help inspire a logo. (What for, I’m afraid I cannot say — because I’m not ready for it to be that real yet.)

It’s a very small thing, in the grand scheme of a writing project’s life.

But it was still a thing — an important thing. A baby step.

When you know you don’t have time — because it happens, and sometimes, it’s a legitimate excuse — the best thing you can do is find very tiny stepping stones that will slowly take you in the direction you want to go. They don’t have to be big things. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Because until you can clear a space in your schedule for something new, you can’t dedicate effort to anything more than the smallest step. You have obligations. Contracts. Promises to keep. This new project doesn’t exist yet — the idea isn’t going anywhere, and really, neither are you. Not yet.

Something seemingly insignificant quickly becomes a huge milestone, when you try creating a timeline for yourself. Today was the first time I’ve technically admitted, in writing, publicly, that something new is on the horizon. That’s big. It means (sigh, fine) it’s actually happening. And that both terrifies and excites me. I’m one (very tiny) step closer to achieving a huge goal.

There may not be time to do all the designing and planning (and writing!) you want to do right now. But there IS time for something small. It still counts. And it just might finally push you over that mountain of hesitation that’s been keeping you away from the action stage of your idea for so long.

One small thing. One tiny step. That’s how something new begins.

(I’m not going to tell you what it is. No. I will not. Sssshhhh.)


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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2 thoughts on “How to Start a New Project When [You Think] You Don’t Have Time

  1. Great post Meg – I believe the small step towards that idea or goal is huge. I have a few reasons for this. One is that the small step helps you understand the viability of that idea. Was it in my head? Is the idea even any good? Without taking some action I’ve found the idea will sit in your head wasting your precious brain space. Two is how a small step towards an idea no matter what size is how every great idea begins. I like to remember that each and every organization in the world was founded from one small idea and a big vision.

    What do you think of this?

    1. I completely agree. :) I shared a small piece of info about a new project with a group of bloggers, to which one replied, “I can’t wait to see how this turns out!” Was not expecting that, but it does speak to the value of the idea – it just might work. :)

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