It has to start somewhere. Your next writing project, I mean.
There you are, sitting in front of your computer with a lovely blank white screen, ready to start that epic novel, lyrical poem, or profoundly wise article. How do you begin?
Hearing that my wife and I had translated much of the Bible into a Brazilian indigenous language, a man asked me, “What was the first thing you translated?” He was astonished when I answered, “The story of the gingerbread man.”
Just like bringing a baby into the world, writing may be a painful process as you conceptualize worlds, characters, and projects into being. Expect the struggle. Plan on packing patience for the process.
Sometimes it is the writing that is the struggle, and other times the writing is affected by life’s surprises and hindrances. They may be severe, as in the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of your health, or they may be merely annoyances such as a sinus cold. Whatever stage you are at in your “labour pains,” whether it is those first twinges or the hand-squeezing, teeth-gritting phase, bite down on these realities and see if they help you endure:
This last December I kept bumping into goal-setting courses and e-books that promised to show me how to make 2016 the best year ever. You too?
Though I’m usually a sucker for these things, this year I resisted. However, I am still using the first weeks of January to examine my life, evaluate, edit, and tweak. I often make these changes instinctively. This year, knowing I would be writing this blog post, I’ve thought about my process more than usual and even reread an old book. Many of the ideas below originate in How to Set Goals and Really Reach Them by Mark Lee (Horizon Books, 1978).
So how do we examine our lives and activities to figure out what to spend our time on and what to omit in the coming year? It really only involves three steps.