So you want to start a new thing.
I’m no stranger to this desire. I’ve started a lot of things in the past five years or so. Many of them, I haven’t finished. But many of them, I’m still chipping away at — and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I hadn’t learned how to start, despite all the other distractions and responsibilities standing in my way.
Here’s my best advice for you, aspiring starter.
Starting a new writing project doesn’t imply you have to dive headfirst into a new thing, submerge your entire existence, and forget about everything else until you burn through all your creative energy in a matter of days. That’s just how too many writers interpret “starting.”
When I start something new, I take things extremely slow. And it works. I conserve that initial excitement and creative insight so it lasts longer. Instead of burning through my motivation, I release it in smaller segments. It’s not as fun, and definitely doesn’t satisfy the overwhelming need for instant gratification too many new writers are hungry for. But it’s much more effective in the long-term. It gives you time to shift around your priorities and figure out how to make it work.
Make (schedule out) time
“I don’t have time for x” isn’t usually a valid excuse. Sometimes it’s legitimate — but usually it’s just your way of letting yourself off the hook without suffering crippling guilt. But that’s where you run into the issue of never actually getting anything done — ever.
The key to making time for anything — especially new things — is to block out specific time in your schedule to work on it. It’s like tricking your mind into deciding it’s time to get down to business, even if you’re overly distracted by other things. I know not everyone can easily create and stick to a pre-determined schedule, but at least try.
Be honest: Is busyness more important than your new idea?
Do you want to be busier, or more productive? Do you really care about your new project, or are you just trying to pile on more “stuff”? Sometimes you just have to accept that starting something new means saying farewell to something old. If you’re too busy to do it now, is your heart really in it? Are you willing to sacrifice part of your personal non-work time in order to make it work?
These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself. You need to be honest. Because the more projects you add to your plate, the less time — and effort — you’re going to be able to dedicate to each of those things.
You’ve heard this all before. But chances are, you clicked on this post because you really needed to hear it again. You’re welcome.
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.