Two years ago, I was contacted by commercial real estate broker who knew I was a writer. He wanted to write a book about his specialty but found that he was completely stuck and unable to move forward.
I had never done any sort of mentoring or consulting before, but I agreed to help him. What emerged during our meeting was that he had written an outline and a synopsis of each section of his book. He had even detailed a few chapters under the section headings he was most familiar with.
However, he seemed to be overwhelmed by the scope of the project and a bit anxious about tackling the chapters he was shakier on.
‘You know, you don’t need to write in consecutive order,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you begin with what you know? Later when you are more experienced and have researched your other topics, you can work on the more difficult chapters.’
He considered that for a moment, nodded, and then added, ‘I just don’t know how to begin. I can’t structure my time.’
‘Do you think you could begin with half an hour each day?’ I asked.
My client considerably brightened. ‘Yes! In fact I could set aside an hour,’ he said.
It turned out he was a morning person and wanted to write before work.
In a short time, we had broken down an overwhelming task into three crucial components:
- Set aside a reasonable amount of time each day when you know you can write. Of course there will always be contingencies that arise, but if you commit to a regular schedule you’ll find it easier to get started.
- You needn’t begin at the beginning. You have a story to tell, and you probably have a vision or idea what the most important part of that story is. That is where you should begin.
- Do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the immensity of your project. Break it down into steps and don’t think about the rest. You will be amazed at how much you will accomplish when you focus on doable actions.
My client went home happy and eager to begin working. He began enjoying the process and was soon devoting additional free time to his project. Today he is a published author, and his book is available on Amazon.com.