Posted in Thoughts, Thoughts from Life, What I Do

What I Do: Just Start!

One of the most intimidating aspects of writing is the blank screen. That cursor flashes, just waiting for words to flow. Inspiration. Thought. But what if nothing comes?

I think that’s the way it goes with much of life. We have a task before us, but we don’t always know where to start. My natural tendency is to wait until inspiration strikes – or I’m out of time. I hate working tight up against a deadline, but I often find myself doing just that because the inspiration just has not struck.

How much better it is to just go ahead and do something.

I’ve learned a few things through my years of writing (and tackling other projects) – tips that help get started. I confess that I’m not always diligent to follow these tips, but I’m getting better. Whatever your task may be, perhaps these tips I’ve learned from writing will help when you’re tempted to await slow-arriving inspiration.

Start with a Question

Whatever the task, one specific question always seems to help: What is my goal? In writing, if I have a sense of direction, I can usually hammer down the details more readily. Just tapping out the purpose of my article helps formulate a flow in my mind.

The same is true of many other tasks and projects. We often wander aimlessly if we don’t have a specific goals.

A more specific question is also sometimes useful – one that directly pertains to what you intend to say or do. In writing, I often use a question as my opening sentence, then attempt to answer it through the course of an article. Sometimes the question stays and sometimes it is replaced with a more declarative opening. Either way, the question provides a framework in which the rest of the article can develop.

Start in the Middle

Have you ever noticed that a project often ends very differently than it starts? We plunge in to the task, confidently plowing ahead. Suddenly, something shifts. Perhaps we hit a snag in the plan. Or maybe we discover more depth. As a result, the starting point no longer encompasses the task ahead.

If a clear goal has been established and the task ahead does not require a starting-point foundation, beginning in the middle can be very helpful. In writing, it allows me to get to the meat of what I’m trying to say. Once I have the meat, it is much easier to go back and introduce the article.

Start Somewhere and Do Something

Ultimately, starting is really the key. Whether I start at the beginning, in the middle, or even at the end, I must start. Whether I attack the easiest portions of the task to get into a groove or dive right into the hardest tasks to get them out of the way, I must do something.

It’s easy to put off a task because we thing that we don’t know where to start or what to do. But, the truth is that we just don’t want to think. It’s easier to put something off than to devote brain power to diving in. Or perhaps we are afraid that we’re not really up to the task. What if we fail? As long as we don’t start, we won’t fail.

But we won’t succeed, either.

Even if the results of my first effort end up in the trash can, they always serve a purpose. They get me going. Active. Moving. And that, my friends, is the key.

Whatever stands before you, may I encourage you to just start? It’s worth the effort.

Posted in What I Do

What I Do

Obviously, I have been hit and miss when it comes to my writing. It’s not just that I’m not getting around to writing. I love to write. And when I write regularly for my own enjoyment, the writing I do for deadlines and publications comes so much more naturally. So, it’s not a chore that I’m avoiding.

It’s just that everything else I do tends to get in the way!

Enjoyment & Necessity Intertwined

That truth has made me realize something. I rarely write about what I do. I write about the spiritual lessons I learn through parenting, but I don’t write about parenting. I share thoughts that come from being a pastor’s wife, but I don’t write about ministry. I use skills that I have learned as a managing editor (hopefully I’ll be able to apply that to “prettifying” my blog soon, too!), but I never write about the amazing opportunities my job has affording me. Oh, and that little thing called homeschooling that helped me get my job in the first place? I don’t really write about that, either.

We cannot separate what we do from who we are and what we love. Even when we have jobs we really do not enjoy – jobs that do not fulfill us – they are still a very integral part of our lives. We cannot compartmentalize the different aspects of our lives and still be the full, thriving human beings God created us to be. Instead, we will gripe and complain because the things that are necessary keep us from the things we love.

What if we were to instead realize that the necessary helps shape and mold us to more greatly enjoy what we love?

My Plan

On Monday I mentioned making goals – guidelines, of sorts, that will help direct how I structure my year. Actively shaping each week to allow for regular writing fits into the goal-setting, and one of my specific plans is to find some way to write about what I do every single week. Maybe I can share something I’ve learned. Or a funny story. Or a struggle. Or an insight. I’m not sure how it will flesh out. But, I’m looking forward to finding out!