Lifehacker had an excellent article yesterday on how to start exercising when you're already overweight. It has the added benefit of having a lot of really useful comments as well as being an insightful article. I'd recommend it to anyone who is struggling with losing weight or getting motivated to move.
But reading over the highlights of the tips, and really, they can be applied to almost anything. Like writing. I mean, look at them:
1. Cut yourself some slack. I have friends who never finish anything they start. That's because they spend all their time trying to polish what they've already written and ignoring commentary that a first draft is almost never, ever the final draft. Expect that it's not going to be perfect the first time through, and it's a lot easier to get the words out.
2. It's a skill you improve at, not a thing you just "do." Nobody knows all the rules when they start. This goes hand in hand with cutting yourself some slack. Expect to learn along the way.
3. Find something you enjoy and start from there. Frankly, I don't really understand why people write for the market and not for themselves, and yet I know writers who do. If you don't love what you're writing, that's going to come through, and really, why waste the time and effort? Life's too short.
4. Focus on what you can do right now, not the finish line. This reminds me of performing in college. One of the hardest things I ever had to get a grip on when I was acting was perform for the moment you're in, not for the ones coming up. If you're always looking forward, you don't see where you are. Plus, you end up judging yourself by other people when we're all so different. Just because Joe can write three thousand words in a day doesn't mean you can. Don't place other people's standards on yourself.
5. Don't do it alone. Getting feedback on your work prior to publication can give you necessary distance to see problems or questions. It can bolster you when you're feeling down. It can celebrate with you when you succeed.