On the eve of my 12th birthday, there was only one gift I wanted in the whole, wide world — a digital camcorder.
My spoiled friend, the one who had everything, he had one. He showed it to me after school one day. And we spent several hours afterwards pretending we were knights and wizards and kings…which would have been a childish thing to do, except for the fact that we were “acting” not “playing make believe.”
I was hooked. I begged my parents for a camera of my own. And when I finally got one, my neighborhood buddy started coming over every weekend. We’d dress up, create fantastical plots, and run around the park with my camera acting NOT playing make believe.
It wasn’t long before I was telling my parents that my dream was to attend film school and become a renowned director.
But like most other creative projects I took on, after the initial rush wore off, the camera took its place next to my drawing kit, my big book of Shakespeare plays, and my half-completed short stories — never to be touched again.
We’ve all been there.
I’m sure if you took a minute (a horribly depressing minute) to think back on all the creative projects you started but never finished, the list would be pretty long. Mine sure is.
I never went to film school. I never became a renowned director. I have a regular old 9–5 job. But sometimes I wonder — what would have happened if I had stuck with it. Where would I be today if I hadn’t abandoned my dream as soon as the next shiny object appeared?
I got tired of asking myself that question. It was bringing me down. So when I started my blog, I’m Making All This Up (which, by the way, was the third or fourth blog I tried to start), I swore that I WOULD. NOT. GIVE. UP.
And lo and behold — here I am. Coming to you with my 105th weekly blog post.
But it wasn’t as easy as just saying “I WILL NOT GIVE UP.” I had to take several measures and set up a number of traps for myself to guarantee that I would not quit when the going got tough or when something else caught my eye.
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of reader questions about motivation. Aboutgetting inspired. And here is the secret — if you’re waiting for those things, you’re never going to get them.
You have to create a system that forces inspiration and motivation to happen.
So if you’re tired of giving up on things, if you’re ready to finally start — and keep writing — a blog (or any other creative project for that matter), here’s what you need to do to ensure your own success.
Peer pressure is my secret weapon. When I’m starting a new project, I tell everyone about it. That way, I’ve committed. I can’t back out. At least, not without embarrassing myself.
A wise old man in the Legend of Zelda once said, “It’s dangerous to go alone.” Which is why, when you’re starting a blog, you have to tell at leastone friend, lover, or family member about it.
It’s easy to break a promise to yourself. It’s hard to break a promise to someone you care about.
Develop a Process
Sometimes, the task of writing a single blog post can feel insurmountable. From research, to writing, to editing, to publishing — it’s no surprise the ideaof blogging is so much sexier than doing the required work. The hard labor.
And that’s exactly why you cannot write “blog post” on your to-do list. It’s such a huge item that you’ll probably procrastinate and never actually start.
The idea of “process” is pretty trendy right now — but it’s just a fancy way of saying that you need to create a system that breaks a big task, like blogging, down into its smallest, component parts so you can tackle each one individually. Because when you check all the little boxes, eventually, you end up checking the big box too.
Schedule Your Creative Time
As I said before, a lot of people believe that creativity is divinely inspired. That you can’t write a blog post unless you happen to be blessed by the gods on that particular day. But that’s a myth. Professional creative people know the secret — show up and the work will get done. Don’t show up, and you’ll get nothing done.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” — W. Somerset Maugham
If you’re serious about starting a blog, then schedule a “blogging appointment” with yourself. Literally block it off on your calendar. And stick to it. If it’s too early that morning — too bad. If your friend wants to go to dinner — sorry, you’re busy. Make a promise to yourself and keep it.
Show up and start typing. It’s the only way to get anything worth doing done.
Know That “Blogging Time” Is Work Time
The idea of writing is so much cooler than actually writing. Because actual writing is hard.
Yes, it feels awesome when you finally publish a piece you love, but it will require some blood, sweat, and tears along the way…well, maybe not blood. If there’s blood, you’re probably doing it wrong.
If you’re not having the most fun time ever when you’re writing, that’s probably a good thing. I certainly don’t. Creating anything of value requires effort and it should be a challenge — if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Remember — if it feels like work, you’re probably on the right track.
Keep Pressing “Publish”
“A large part of the creative process is tolerating the gap between the glorious image you had in your head, and the sad thing you just made.” — Pamela Druckerman
Blogging is so hard because, without fail, what you write will never match the grand vision in your head. But that’s OK. That grand vision was only ever in your head, not your audience’s head. If you’re doing your best work and consistently delivering value, then your readers won’t mind.
If you’re pressing publish every week, this blog post won’t be your last. Next week, you’ll get another chance to bring your grand vision and your actual creation a bit closer together.
Before I started I’m Making All This Up, I was sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike. I was waiting to magically get “un-busy” so that I could just focus on blogging.
That never happens. Ever.
You will always find ways to procrastinate or come up with reasons why now is not the ideal time.
But there will NEVER be an “ideal” time.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, then you have to commit to writing no matter how crazy things are right now. Regardless of what else pops up in your busy life.