7 Tips to Ace the Beginning (of Anything) on your Writing Adventure
No. 134 | By Christine Carron
This week I launched Goodjelly’s Youtube channel. (Wahoo!) The experience was a delightfully maddening reminder of something that I coach writers on all the time: that getting something started pretty much always takes longer than you think it will.
In honor of the launch and my total underestimation of the time and tasks involved, here are seven tips to make the navigation of the beginning of anything on your writing adventure easier.
1. Spend no more than 5 minutes trying to figure tech out on your own.
It doesn’t matter if you are setting up a Youtube channel, learning how to use Scrivener, or setting up a newsletter to start building your author platform—if you’re struggling with the tech, stop the spin and get help. From Google, from a friend, from wherever.
I ended up not following this advice and went down a pointless hole trying to blindly figure out the coordinates of the desktop banner for the channel versus the mobile banner, so I could place the text correctly. For some reason, my brain convinced itself that I could eyeball the positioning correctly.
Note: My brain completely could not eyeball the positioning correctly!
Finally, reason returned and I asked my research assistant Google for help. Seconds later, I was watching a Youtube video where some guy (who, though I cannot remember his name, I am eternally grateful to) listed the ruler coordinates to set in Canva for a Youtube banner to get all the placements correct. If I would have called that earlier, I would have saved myself time and frustration.
2. Accept you will have lots of estimation errors.
If you’ve never done something before, you have no experience on which to base estimates on how long it will take, or even all the steps involved. Don’t let your Inner Critic tell you anything different. Make a plan to the best of your ability, slap a huge buffer on that plan, and then douse yourself in a lot of grace.
3. Don’t try to standardize anything yet.
One of my favorite gems from James Clear’s Atomic Habits is his phrase: standardize before you optimize. But even before you standardize, you just have to do the thing. Do it awkwardly. Do it messily. But just do it.
Get it down. Get it done. Once you have something to work with, you can get busy making it better.
I admit that this one is particularly challenging for me to ace with my process improvement background. My brain is always trying to make me think six months out, a year out, five years out—what do I need to set up now to make management of whatever the thing is easier down the road? It’s a useful skill in general but can become a minor blocker/progress drag in the midst of an inherently messy beginning.
4. Remember that your 1.0 version of anything is golden.
The tendency of writers to diss their first drafts is a particular peeve of mine, thanks (again) to my process improvement background. I’ve written about this before, but I will say it again here: Stop dissing your first drafts of anything. The first draft of your novel or nonfiction book is not sh*tty. The first version of your author platform is not sh*tty. Your first school visit is not sh*tty.
It’s the caterpillar in the cocoon waiting to be transformed into the butterfly. Don’t diss the caterpillar. The dissing undercuts the motivational boost you get by getting the initial foray done.
5. Go for progress over perfection.
In the beginning of anything, be it a first draft of a writing project, starting a Youtube channel, or learning how to do a one-armed handstand, send your Inner Perfectionist on an all expenses paid vacation to the Bahamas. You and your Inner Perfectionist need to be chill during beginnings.
6. Embrace the clunky-awkward.
Beginnings are often clunky. You don’t have the process down. You don’t really know what you are doing. Even if someone has mapped out a process for you, you still have to do that process, and the first time through you will miss steps, not execute the steps correctly, etc.
Yesterday I recorded what was supposed to be the 5th and 6th of my planned 100 videos. In both I kept flubbing up.
Embracing the clunky-awkward, I determinedly continued with the camera rolling, attempting to pick up right before I flubbed up not only with what I was saying but also with what I had drawn on the whiteboard—which meant I tried to remember exactly what I had drawn right before and during the flub-ups and erase those bits before continuing.
That process worked well enough for the 5th video. I was able to edit a solid, imperfect video out of the footage that conveyed what I wanted to convey. Yes, a circle does magically appear around the word “you” at toward the end of the clip. Totally not a deal breaker in light of tip #5: progress over perfection.
The 6th video, however, was a hilarious wipeout.
I ended up with 18 minutes of recorded video for a 4-5 minute segment. I managed to get the audio down to a semi-coherent narration, but visually the cuts were too distracting even vertigo-inducing. In some places, I spontaneously transported to a different position. Sketches and words appeared and disappeared on the whiteboard. Complete lack of continuity.
So with grace and giggles, I will re-record the 6th video today. Onward!
7. Celebrate all of it.
Absolutely it was a time-consuming, sometimes eye-crossing process to get the channel up and those first few videos recorded. No matter. I am happy dancing over here. I got a Youtube channel launched! Wahoo!
And, of course, I totally invite you to subscribe to my channel! Not only will you get even more Goodjelly content to boost your writing adventure, you also will totally see the evolution of the channel from the very beginning.
Now it’s your turn. What are you beginning right now on your writerly adventure? Apply these tips to bring more lightness and joy to the wonderful and wonderfully messy beginning you are in process of landing. Wahoo! You’ve got this!