When I finally finished and published my last book, Dream Chasers, at the end of 2014 the first thing that ran through my head is “What should I write next?” It wasn’t long before I’d found an idea that I liked – one that fit nicely as a companion piece to the one I’d just written, but could also stand alone as a useful tool/guide on its own. I decided I wanted to write a book on beginnings – on how to actually start moving forward with the things that God has asked you to do or laid on your heart.
So I did what I’ve found works well for me: I started writing down thoughts about how the book would be laid out. I built a structure that I thought would work for the book I was writing, picked my examples from the Bible, figured out what points I was making, etc. I was excited about the topic for about a week, and then suddenly all of the air went out from it. I lost my drive to write the thing.
Has that ever happened to you? Well it seems to be a running theme in my world. I get excited about a writing project, right up until I actually have to write it. Then suddenly it feels like the driest topic imaginable, and getting the first few hundred words on paper feels a lot like pulling teeth.
What do we as writers do when this happens? I think it depends. I certainly don’t believe there’s one correct answer. In this particular example, I ran off and started writing other things. I think at least part of my apathy came from the burnout of having just finished a similar book. I just didn’t have it in me to come up with a fresh take on such a similar subject. So to give myself a little bit of a break, I worked on completely unrelated projects in completely unrelated areas. I wrote skits and plays. I wrote guest articles for blogs. I wrote whatever I felt like writing as I felt like writing it … and I did that for six months.
Do you know what happened as a result? One day I woke up and thought “Hey, I should get back to that book I’ve been ignoring.” and when I went back to my notes to look at what I had, I no longer dreaded the idea of writing it. It wasn’t an easy transition. It took a while to get back in the flow. But now, less than a week later, I have my first chapter done, and I’m over the 5,000 word mark (which is the minimum word count I need to hit before I can claim that I’ve gotten started).
So what works for you? How do you get started when you have a huge project in front of you? Do you wait for inspiration? Do you just slog through until it sticks? Knowing how you get started is a great tool in your arsenal. It will make you that much more effective and efficient in the future!