How To Start And Keep Going

Today is day 18 of my 30 day challenge.

I wish I could say that I was as far along as I’d like to be with writing my book but what’s more important to me is knowing that I’m making progress.

The two biggest parts when undertaking a task like this is i) to start and ii) to keep going.

What about finishing? The truth be told, I don’t think there is ever a point when you finish. There’s always room for improvement but it’s just deciding when to finish for the moment. It’s something I’ve learned through doing stand-up comedy. A routine is never truly finished, you just keep making it better and edit as you go.

The problem with a book is that once it hits the printing press it’s a lot harder to amend.

To start is not the hardest part. Most people can usually begin a task okay, but then they stall because the gravity of the task pulls them down, and they eventually let the endeavour fall to the wayside.

There are two reasons for that; i) it was an endeavour that truly wasn’t for them, or, ii) once the reality sank in, laziness, procrastination or the need for perfection stopped the momentum in it’s tracks.

Procrastination and laziness are just poor habits but the last part, the need to perfect from the beginning, is a much more subtle force.

Whilst I’ve been writing, the need to perfect as I’m going along has been slowing me down. I realised that when I was stuck at 6000 words for a few days. I was just editing rather than writing.

The editing can always come later. You just have to start and keep going. Even if what you’re writing is absolute pants! It doesn’t matter, what matters is you write and get the content on paper. Get your ideas down no matter how rough it may be, just get them down.

How To Start

Start! Just Start! If you’ve always wanted to write a book, start right now!

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the exact direction of the book, or what it’s going to be called, or how sexy you’ll look on the back cover, or how rich you’ll become! Just get a pen and paper, or for those of you living in 2012, grab your iPad or Laptop and just begin!

Go and do a 1000 words, or write for 30 minutes; whichever comes first.

How To Keep Going

Keep Going! Don’t be tempted to constantly reread what you’ve already written. Even if you duplicate your work you can always amend it at a much later stage. Once you’ve written a 1000 words, take a short break, stretch your legs, have some water and then start again or repeat the next day.

Yes, YOU DO HAVE THE TIME! If you don’t you must make the time. If you let one thing get in the way you’ve started a new habit of letting excuses get the better of you. And each time you do it the habit gets stronger.

Keep going, and going, and going. As you write more and more, the more you’ll want to write. More will emerge from your mind than you ever thought possible. If you say you’re going to write a 50,000 word book you might think that you don’t have the ability to pull it off. Keep going and before you know it you’ll be at 10,000 words, then 20,000 and so on.

Don’t focus too much on how much you’ve written. At this stage it’s more about cultivating the gorgeous and sexy habit of starting something and keeping it going.

Have you ever wanted to start something. Did you let small excuses and poor habits of laziness get in the way? You can start right now, this very second! Go on…and let me know how you’re getting on.

P.S. This article was written in just 22 minutes; the fastest I’ve ever written a post in. It may not be perfect; it may have one or two errors. Who cares?! I started and I kept going. I can always perfect it later. ๐Ÿ˜€

20 Responses

  1. Bro, when I began writing, I was always going back and editing as I went along making the process longer than in should be and then I began writing in headed unedited chunks. It put my thoughts in some kind of order, although the spelling and grammer was awful, but that is why you edit afterwards. Now what I do is write an entire scene or chapter in the dirtiest language possible and then edit that to my satisfaction before continuing. As always persistence is key and that will only come if you Believe in your words. There may be times when you feel your work is lacking something, but carry on and add extra ‘masala’ later. The point is, if you wake up tomorrow morning and think of nothing but writing then what you need to do is Write! : )

    • Amit Sodha says:

      That’s great advice and coming from you Milan, a published writer is well received. I may try that and see how that works for me. I’ve also been using of bit of the free writing technique to see what else comes out.

      To edit too much as I go along just seemed to hinder my progress. I’m eager to see what other writers say about their experiences in the process of getting the material together.

      • Milan Bakrania says:

        Btw, keep a notebook next to yr bed cos you gonna need it! Once the gates are open, you won’t be able to stop, you’ll be receiving points of inspiration at 3am in the morning….get it on paper quick before the next one arrives! : )

  2. Adam Tyler says:

    Pomodoro technique works for me quite well. Pretty much what you have described, but with a kitchen timer. Writing for 25 minutes isn’t long and I’m able to fit several such sessions during the day. And more often than not, I’m not stopping once the alarm sets off ;).

  3. R says:

    Hey Amit, this has happened with me most times especially when it comes to a really boring task thats important and i have to get it done. The most important thing for me is to find the motivation to finish off what i started and to follow on with my goals no matter how tedious the task at hand is. I do have moments of procrastination and laziness to i have to admit, but then i push myself the next day to finish off what i started, and sometimes procrastination and laziness can be a good thing to because your body and mind needs relaxtion in order to perform again-(coming from personal experience! lol) but then i tell myself that if i dont do the task then who else will do it for me? but in the end i do get the enourmous satisfaction when i complete what i started off! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey R,

      You’re very right about the rest periods. It’s probably why the pomodoro technique works so well that Adam talked about in the comments above. I always found that If I do get stuck, a change of scene can work wonders. Once I come back to the task I often return with renewed vigor and fresh ideas!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Jesse Huang says:

    I’d like to add something that’s helped me understand why it’s better to write first, then revise. One of the subtle blocks of writing that you mentioned is the need to be perfect from beginning to end. That describes me completely. It’s useful to be a perfectionist along the way in some cases (like learning a new skill properly, lifting form, etc) but not in writing. Writing and editing are two different tasks that require different parts of the brain. The former is a creative process which uses the right side of the brain. Editing requires using the logical left side of the brain. Since humans cannot truly multitask, it’s not efficient to edit as you write. You would be switching back and forth between creative and logical thinking, wasting a lot of time and energy.

    I just wanted to add that comment because I think my writing improved once I saw that explanation. Thanks for the good read!

  6. Josh Peete says:

    Have you considered using mind mapping software? Authors seems to write so much faster after mind mapping.

  7. Rickie says:

    whoah this blog is great i love reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, a lot of people are looking around for this information, you could aid them greatly.

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