Sitting here on a quiet Sunday afternoon, reading through some stories I need to critique and then off to finish my revisions on Small Town Ghosts. Yesterday was an excellent revision day and I’m in the home stretch. Believe me, I didn’t want to do it yesterday. My mind had a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t go and revise – laundry needed to be done, dishes were in the sink, my bedroom looked like a Jupiter-sized hurricane raged through it. But I did and am just a few pages from my goal.
All I needed to do was sit down and start.
And that, my friends, is always the hardest part. I recently read a book called The Now Habit, by Neil Fiore. Now, usually I’m not a big fan of self-help books. I don’t need a cheerleader – I need an assistant. But one thing in this book struck me, one point, which has slowly led me to change the way I work.
You don’t need to finish every time you start a task – you only need to start it. It may seem elementary but in some ways it was a shift in my focus. I always want to sit down and finish the story I’m working on but that’s not always possible. Sometimes it’s just about getting a page written or a chapter revised. There’s a whole lot less pressure on me when I sit down and say, I’m only going to read through this one scene and see how I can make it the best it can be rather than OMG I NEED TO REVISE ALL 212 PAGES OF THIS NOVEL RIGHT NOW.
This shift in focus has helped me accomplish quite a few things since January 1. Just start. Do 5, 10, 15 minutes of whatever it is you need to do. Chances are, I find myself either being able to accomplish more in concentrated 15-minute bursts of activity or I’m able to concentrate for long periods of time and really move a task along once I get over my fear of starting (which is really a fear of not finishing).
So, just start. You don’t need to finish a scene, a page, or a book. Just start and do the best you can for 15 minutes.
Next time, I’ll be talking about The Now Habit, writing, and my training for a 5K zombie run. Somehow it all comes together.
What goal are you set to accomplish where this now habit can help you?