The beginning is the hardest part.
I mentioned my nervousness to Amber before we started. She smiled and said, “You’ve done the hardest part already.” Of course she was right.
I had already climbed over fears and rationalizations and busy-ness to get myself there. I had made myself ready to begin.
How often is making-ready-to-begin the hardest part of any new creative experience, including daily writing?
When I write at 5 a.m., the preparing happens somewhat automatically as I move from sleep to tea to desk. But later in the day, or on weekends, I find potentially infinite distractions and obstacles. Habits and rituals help me to move past them and on to what I most want to do.
Here is what I do in just a few minutes to make my way to writing:
7. Clear the desk of books and papers unrelated to the work-in-progress, except for #6.
6. Have a pen and a calendar or notebook to write down oh-no-I-forgot-to-do-that thoughts and then let them go.
5. Brew a pot of tea or pour a large glass of cold water, enough to last through an hour or so of writing.
4. Close Outlook and Tweetdeck and any other computer applications that will “notify” me that there’s a world out there, ready to ask for my attention.
3. If anyone else is in the house, and awake, I close the door on my writing room.
2. Play music that signifies that it’s time to start. I have an iTunes playlist called “Write.” The first song is “Night Walk,” by Gil Namur, and from there it’s mostly Pat Metheny and electronica. I never “shuffle,” and often after I get started, I mute it. But the first song tells my mind that it’s time to write.
1. Take a deep breath and put my fingers on the keyboard. Repeat daily.
I’d love to know your rituals in the comments. What do you do to prepare to begin, whether you’re beginning to write, dance, photograph, paint, or express yourself in some other way?