The first step towards writing anything is deceptively simple. It’s sitting.
But it’s not just any sitting. It’s sitting in front of a blank page or screen — the prospect of which can be intimidating. While there are people who can sit down and get right to business, for others it can take time.
If you are one of these people, do not fret if you find yourself:
- Straightening out your desk, living room or kitchen
- Watching Netflix
- Making a cup of tea
- Lighting a candle
- Throwing out the garbage
Even experienced writers can dismiss such puttering as mere procrastination, but I prefer to think of it as a kind of nesting. It is simply what’s necessary to welcome your imagination into the room.
After all, the mindset with which we address daily life is different from the one required for creative labor, and it’s not always easy to switch gears. And while, of course, there will be times when inspiration hits you while you’re doing something else, devotion to a project demands that you be able to write on command.
Creating the proper setting for your imagination is an act of self-care that requires practice and patience. So give yourself some grace and explore what you need to settle into a writing session: Do you prefer quiet or noise? A messy space or a tidy one? Morning or evening? Just as every writer develops a “voice” through choice of words and story, every writer also develops preferences for diving into the creative process.
Especially in the beginning, it can take time for your mind to turn away from the mundane details of daily life and towards creation. So don’t be ashamed if, as one highly accomplished artist once told me, it takes three times as long to prepare as it does to actually create.
Your story is waiting to be told, and I encourage you to do whatever it takes to sit down and begin telling it.