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You Don’t Have to Figure the Whole Thing Out First. Just Start.

·361 words·2 mins

I know you have that project you really want to do. And you want to do a really good job — because what’s the point, right? What’s the point of doing something if you aren’t going to do it well? It’s tough out there. People have an unprecedented level of demands on their time and attention. All of that is competition for what you want to start.

I know it’s a lot. I stare it in the face every time I sit down at the keyboard in front of a blank screen. I know that the world is full of other things for people to read, other things for people to do. And that my strange little missives can’t compete with the vast majority of that.

Once upon a time, that prevented me from putting my words out there. What was the point? I wondered.

Besides, I couldn’t see the entire shape of my project. Not one that I knew would be a good use of my time and energy and really resonate with them.

I figured if I just sat and waited, however, an obviously brilliant idea would come to me. I’d figure it out with time and patience. Decades passed while I did this.

And then one day, egged on by friends, I just started messing around in public. A lot of it went absolutely nowhere, but some of it did. And over time, I learned a lot from what I tried that took off — and what didn’t.

I know a lot now about myself as a writer and about the people I write for. I knew none of this when I was trying to envision the whole project in my head, to guarantee it’d be a big old success.

Anyway, I’m here to tell you what I wish I realized a long time ago: You don’t have to do the whole thing at once. Just start. Start with something tiny. Do a piece at a time.

The work will take on a life of its own at some point, and you’ll wake up surprised one day by all that you learned when you were just messing around.


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