How to Begin Any Daunting Writing (or Speaking) Project

by | Uncategorized

You've got a book to write, don't you?

Or maybe you need to start spreading the word about your book by getting on some stages with your message.

Or maybe it's time to build your coaching/wellness/counseling practice for real – create a high-impact website, get your message clear. Get a logo and some real business cards.

Here's the thing about big projects… they're Big.

They're hard to wrap our heads around.

We don't know where to start.

You could tackle them like I did my first book – by sitting down one day to write a 20 page eBook and finding yourself five months later with a stack of professionally designed 200+ page real books in your hand. I never had to “begin” that project because I hadn't intended to write a real book. I sort of tricked myself into it (and it went great, by the way – but it was still Big.) The problem is, I am never able to intentionally trick myself, are you?

If you know you want to write a book (or craft a speech or build a fabulous website), you might as well just get it going.

Aside from that one surprise book-writing adventure, I've sat my fanny down to create some pretty daunting projects. I've written pretty long eBooks, created many websites (with the requisite complete rewrite of all web copy) and crafted countless speeches, workshops and trainings from scratch. I also get paid regularly to get my clients to sit their fannies down to do the same. Ultimately, these projects pretty much get done the same way.

So, here are six super S.I.M.P.L.E. ways you can guide your lovely self into that chair and get ‘er done, once and for all.

S = Space Freshen

Vision your fresh work space – then make it happen. I love to get into a completely new environment to get started on a big project. I get a lot done when I am not distracted by client files sitting on my desk or mired in old, frustrated beliefs that sometimes linger in my usual spaces. I often pick a cozy coffee shop one or two towns over from mine, so I'm really not tempted to hit my favorite browsing spots instead of sitting down and writing. If you can't get away like that for some reason, then clear off your desk of all files and current projects. Bring in your favorite art from another room and hang it in plain sight. Light a differently scented candle in the room. Make the space new and fresh to you. And when you think of freshening your space, also think of creating a wide open space on your calendar as well. Block out the time and color in the block with a fresh green hi-lighter.

I = Imagine

Seriously, spend some time really calling to mind the beautiful finished project. See yourself on stage in that gorgeous outfit, beaming at the riveted audience. Feel that cool, slick book in your hand with your name in clean and vivid typography across the bottom of the cover. Feel those excited feelings in your body as though the end is here now – because it almost is. (By the way, you only get about 15 minutes here because this is NOT the doing. It's useful and valuable – but you've got to do these next four things to get it done!) Enjoy this part! It's the mindset part that fuels the next step.

M = Make a Mark

Open the word processing document or paper notebook and write something on it. Anything. Write a sentence. This sentence may end up somewhere in the middle of your book, it may be your closing line – or it might get completely rewritten. Just make a mark on the page. Then make another one. This is how creation begins. Let it keep flowing for a while. Worry about nothing else.

P = Pause and Pull Back

After you write for a while and you can feel the process of creation flowing, you will likely feel a natural pause. It's time to look up from the page. Do that – look up. Pull back from what you've written. See it from the outside, as opposed to the gut-level, intestinal view that can happen when we are in the depths of creation. See if it is revealing a structure. Maybe an outline or some edges and headlines. If you see those, pull them out. Make them into their calling (as headlines or an outline.) Don't make it perfect. Just let it show up and document, an innocent bystander you are.

L = Leave

Now, plant your feet firmly on the ground, engage the muscles in your legs and lift your bottom from the chair. Carry yourself out the door and, preferably, into the sunshine and fresh air (or whatever your air and sky bring you.) If that's not feasible for any reason, go into a completely different room/environment. Go somewhere private because you are going to talk to yourself and that usually looks crazy to other people (though we all do it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Walk for a bit.

After 5 minutes or so, ask yourself this: “Hmmm… what did I write in there?” Then tell yourself what you wrote. Not verbatim – just tell yourself the story. When you get to the part where you stopped, ask yourself, “Then what?” and talk some more.

E = Engage Again the Same Day

Now this is really critical! Sometimes that walk outside can inspire us to…oh, say, begin gardening. Or, toss on our wetsuit and do a bit of body surfing. If you're like me, it might just invite you to bake a giant batch of cookies and listen to some Janis Joplin. But that's not going to get ‘er done, is it?

So, the last step is to smile at the lovely idea of planting those azaleas that have been waiting in their store-bought pots for a week and promise yourself that you'll tuck those beauties into their rightful earth-home later today. But for right now, you must go back to the page and make some more marks. Any marks will do, though often richness comes from writing down some of those things you talked about with yourself on that walk you just took. So, do that first.

**Not to get ahead of ourselves here since our only goal in this lesson is to begin, but I'll give you a hint as to how you finish the project, too… it looks really similar to beginning.**

Now, you dear soul – Well Done! You began. This – beginning at all – is a huge, beautiful thing. Give yourself one of those yummy, stretchy self-hugs and smile inside.

Then, carry on with beginning… over and over, until you are done. 

And remember what they say about eating an elephant…

though frankly, I find that disturbing to even consider.

You can do this! Let me know if I can help.