“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Start at the beginning – seems straight forward enough doesn’t it?
Except when it’s not.
Except when you find yourself with a project that’s been stuck on your to-do list for ages, precisely because you don’t know where to start.
Except when you have no idea what the beginning looks like.
Or when the beginning is SO IMPORTANT that the pressure to get it right overwhelms you and stops you from getting started at all. Like how to start a speech (what is it, 7 seconds to make a first impression?) or what to name a book.
My new ‘baby’ (aka my second book manuscript) is now with the publisher, who assures me it’s in safe hands. And by the end of today, after lots of back and forth, it should have a name. Boy has it been an agonising process – I thought choosing a name for a child was hard enough!
But here’s the thing – if I had told myself I had to come up with a name before I started writing, I suspect I’d still have a book to write now.
Because sometimes you can’t name something – or even introduce it – until you know what it is that you’ve created. And it’s not until you start creating that you find out what it is. Some stories, projects and creations have a life of their own, and we need to let them grow before we find out what they can become.
Sometimes you just have to start where you are – with that one line, that one idea, that flash of inspiration somewhere in the middle – and let it grow from there. You may find that the beginning is the last thing you write, because it’s not until you get to the end that you realise what it’s all about.
So back to that project you’re stuck on, or that thing you’ve been struggling to get started. What if you skipped the beginning, for now – and started somewhere in the middle? What if you gave yourself permission to start right where you are, wherever that is, and allow it to grow from there?
Drop me a line in the comments box below and let me know what you think.