The Myth of Perfect Timing

So sometimes I still surprise myself when I look back and see that I have three finished books under my belt. Not literally under my belt, but that would be a good motivational tool (Mental note: start wearing my books for talks).

Despite all of the doubts and fears that come with a huge project like writing a book, there’s one thing that would have 100% prevented it from happening: Waiting for the perfect time to write it.

As expected, writing my first book wasn’t easy. I would write a couple of chapters then just hit a wall. Memories of struggles with writing and reading would resurface. Why was this 3rd grade special ed student trying to write a book again?

So, I tried to set up the perfect environment to inspire me to write.

Comfortable office? Check.
Soft music? Check.
Low lights and a candle? Check.
Words flowing? Nope.

My luck didn’t change until a 5-foot-2 Russian woman gave me some incredible wisdom: Just start writing.

I gave up on setting the perfect environment for writing, and just started writing. I didn’t need to sit at my office computer to write. I bought legal pads and wrote during flights. Why legal pads and not a laptop? Because we have to turn off our computers during the last 20 minutes of flights. If I’m in the middle of a great flow, I don’t want to interrupt it because I have to shut my laptop off.

Everything in my second book was hand-written on pads of paper first. The legal pad method actually made the whole book-writing process easier. I simply transcribed my notes at the computer, and I did a lot of editing at the same time. That second book was finished faster than any other writing project I’d ever done.

The idea of just starting works for most any of our dreams in life. In creative writing, the more writing you do, the more writing that will be born out of it. Many great artists tackle a section of their work at a time, and then they build upon that section. Eventually they end up with a masterpiece.

Most people are overwhelmed by the immensity of the project at hand. Break it down into manageable pieces. If you’re writing your dream novel, commit to write 1 page a day if you need to. Even after a month, you’ll have 30 pages under your belt (which you can wear for more motivation if you want).

If you wait for the perfect time to start, that time will likely never come. The phone will always ring, the kids will always have a need, a to-do will always pop up. Just start writing or painting or running, acting, playing, dancing, or singing.

Whatever your dream is, just start.