If you're in a creative field for about, oh, five minutes, you'll hear this quote:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe*
When I began writing Book One of my trilogy, I was escaping two huge novel projects. We're talking fifty-page outlines, and 500-page drafts. HUGE. I wrote Book One like a runaway.
I had a couple of plot ideas, three character names, and a murky idea for a villain. A city name that I thought sounded fun. And that was about it.
I dove headfirst into NaNoWriMo, and by flinging myself at the blank page day after day, I came up with a story of over 50,000 words that completely dazzled me.
I found out that I didn't need a massive strategy. I didn't need dozens of plot complications listed out. I didn't need scene diagrams. Somehow, I already had the whole story inside me.
And it just took diving in to find it.
So what is it, this boldness of just BEGINNING? You're saying to yourself that anything is possible. That this is a road you are willing to go down.
And when you do that, three things show up.
You're a genius.
When you dive in, with a whole heart, with all the boldness cylinders firing, you just get smarter. Really! You do. When problems show up, you find a way.
Because there are always problems. And there is always a way.
You find in yourself a cunningness. An openness to unusual solutions.
What's the prerequisite for solving a problem? Believing that you can. Believing that there exists an answer, somewhere, and that it is graspable.
Funny what you'll invent, what you'll create, what you'll make, as long as you believe that you can. Answers arrive out of thin air, exposing what you didn't know you knew.
When you really go for it, you make your own momentum.
This is a crazy good thing. Stoke it, build it, add to it in any way you can.
And never ever take your momentum for granted.
A strong beginning builds its own energy and strength. An oomph that can move you over hurdles in your way.
And hey, you're putting ideas into the world, putting words down on paper, that didn't exist there before. No matter how you slice it, no matter how you feel about it, that's powerful. That's big stuff.
You're a magician.
As you come up with your genius answers, and as you build momentum, weird things start showing up.
Characters start talking to you. I mean it. Really talking.
You start seeing things that aren't there.
No, I'm not getting spooky on you. I think another word for all this is "overactive imagination." But for once, that's a really good thing. That's exactly what you want!
Yes, you, with the overactive imagination: Please bring it over here and start writing your novel.
I think that when you've voted YES for your creative work in a really solid, hands-down, not-gonna-back-out way, your brain takes a little bit of time to catch up. (Maybe to get over its surprise.) But then when it does--oh baby. When it does.
It brings all kinds of stuff out of its attic, out of the basement. Ideas and imagery you didn't know you had in you. I mean--you really didn't know.
Character voices and mannerisms, crazy settings, and astonishing conflict ideas that you can't explain in a purely rational way. Because they feel like they came from something outside of you, not you at all.
And instead of scraping the bottom of what you can imagine, you discover depths below depths.
Sometimes, if we don't start when we should, all that genius, power, and magic goes the other way. It goes backward, works against you.
Personally, I'm always spotting flaws in my works-in-progress, in my project plans. I see why things don't work. I'm a terrible skeptic when it comes to most ideas: the first thing to my lips is why we can't. I am full of resistance, mule-minded, with a very hard head, heels that have lots of practice digging in.
And I can practical-mind all that magic away.
Spoiler alert: This is not the way to enjoy writing novels.
Sometimes, you really just need to leap, whole-heartedly. In spite of flaws, in spite of doubts. And you figure it out as you're falling.
Sometimes, you really do learn to fly on the way down. And, when you don't, sometimes the crash landing isn't as awful as you thought it would be. You learn. You build a better flying machine.
Sometimes, you really just need to begin.
What is it that you've held back from beginning? What is on your "one day, maybe I'll..." list?
What would happen if you--started?
*So I've heard that this Goethe quote is commonly misattributed, and that the quote actually came from W. H. Murray, but either way you slice it: it's a stirring quote.