I’m sponsoring an upcoming event for a Portland Blogger’s event. So I’m designing a simple postcard to hand out in promotion of my services.
I’m excited to sponsor this great event and for the opportunity to work with some creative bloggers. But I have one tiny problem.
I want to design this postcard about as much as I want to scrub a toilet.
At first I had no idea where to start. I had no clue what it should look like. My mind was completely blank. With no idea where to start, I was afraid to take the first step. I only knew that it should be a postcard with some colors. That’s it.
Then a couple days ago, I thought, “Okay, it’s not that hard. It can be anything. I just have to do it.” So I did it.
I started with a dummy template in Microsoft Publisher. I played around with colors and got some ideas, small ideas about the theme and type of font. I chose an inspirational quote over a picture. I deleted text boxes and moved others around.
After a few hours of steady work, I had a sample. With each decision I had a better idea of what I wanted. And I had created something.
All I had to go was get started.
Like any creative process, this is sometimes the hardest step in writing. You know you need to write a new blog post or a few pages of your book. But how do you get started?
In this scenario, I worked under the pressure of an encroaching deadline. I do not recommend this for anything, least of all writing. Writing is a sacred process. You need that time to walk away and come back with fresh eyes.
But there are a few things I took away from this experience.
1. Start small. When I opened the Publisher template, I immediately knew what I did not want. I didn’t want to use the default black and red color scheme (ugh). I wanted different colors, so I worked with that. I wasn’t keen on the font, so I played with those. Soon after that, I considered the overall design.
I started with one detail, and inspiration for other details followed. That is all it took. Scale down your thought of the overall work. Consider one simple detail. It can be a word, a color, an image, or an emotion. Start writing about that for however long you need to until it leads you to the next detail.
2. Use a template. Structure can be a good thing. When I write blog posts, I more or less work with a template. If I have a clear idea of my topic, then I don’t lean on it as much. But when my capacity for the English language completely escapes me, then this template helps me get grounded.
Your template can be as simple a beginning, a middle, and an end. Write a sentence for each section. Write two more and so on.
3. Map out your idea. Working on my novel, I sometimes can’t envision what should come next: what my character should do, where she should go, and who is with her in the scene. So I do a simple exercise of listing her every action, A plus B plus C and so on. I allow myself to create different scenarios. This way, I feel like I have options on which course of action the story should take.
You can start with one statement. For example with this blog post I said, “Getting started is hard.” I built everything else around that. I told my story about getting started. Then I thought about how I problem-solved it.
All you need is one piece, one idea, one detail. Build something, anything. Don’t worry about whether it’s good. That’s editing. Save that for later. Just get started.