“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
— Mark Twain
How simple is that? How wise? Because he was absolutely right. Too often, people allow themselves to be intimidated when it comes to writing, or even starting a manuscript of any length.
I see twenty-year-old students afraid to write because they might do it wrong.
I meet seventy-year-olds afraid to write because they think it’s too late.
I chat with thirty-year-old moms afraid to write because it’s been so long since they took a writing course and now that their children are starting school and they finally have some spare time, they believe they are too rusty to try it.
I deal with fifty-year-old divorcees afraid to write because although they’ve always wanted to they no longer believe in themselves or in reaching for their dreams.
And I coach myself every time I’m about to start a new project, talking myself past being afraid to write it because I know I can do it if I’ll only try.
Early in my career as a novelist, I wrote books that I’m proud of and books that are quick, disposable reads that paid the bills. Either way, I wrote a lot of them and they were published. When I look back over my publication record, I am sometimes astonished at what I accomplished. But when I was a starry-eyed kid of nineteen and twenty and twenty-one, getting my first agent and my first publishing contract, I didn’t know I couldn’t do it.
And that’s the spirit we have to carry within us every day. We can’t know–or think about–what we cannot do.
We just have to set our sights on our objective . . . and start.