The four steps of beginning a creative project

Just a little over a year ago, my head was dizzy with fear and anxiety. I was about to start this blog.

It was a beginning. But it was not the only beginning. 

I began when I thought

Okay, so if I am to be an author, I should probably have a blog, to find and connect with readers. 

I began when I decided I needed to do something with my creativity, and that I needed to face my fears. 

I began when I learned how to make a website. 
I began when I started to write that first blog post. 
And I began when I hit publish for the first time. 

The start is rarely one moment. 

It's a process, going from a diffuse longing or discomfort with the your now, to a whisper of an idea, to a plan slowly forming in your head, to a maybe I could... To a choice, to google searches and to taking a few really big steps.

Beginning is a process and it's a hard one. There are so many moments when it can end before you get past those first steps. So many thresholds you need to be brave enough to step over.

The calling of "something"

Our beginnings often start with a vague longing. 

You want to create something.
You want something to change.
You want something new in your life.

What that something is is rarely straight-forward or clear. Sometimes it makes us desperately poke at our present to understand what's wrong or missing. Other times it makes us paralyzed and tired, not knowing what to do. 

We hear a calling that we can't fully make out. We search for it without understanding. 

It took me months to understand that my something was a longing for creativity. I was uncomfortable and bored. Restless and fatigued. I knew (yeah, you guessed it) something was missing, but I didn't know what it was. 

Then I heard just the same feeling described in a podcast, and her something was to make, and it hit me like a flash of lightning. That was it. The calling was to create.

The first step in the process of beginning is to understand your longing.

It might be crystal clear to you, then you've already gone past this stage. If it's fuzzy though, know that your calling might not be your first guess. But if you feel like something is missing, then something probably is.

Your itch might come from reaching a plateau in your creativity.

It might be too much structure and too little freedom.
It might be too much spontaneity and too few bigger projects.
It might be that you're done with something for the moment and you need to move on to something else.
It might be that you've lost track of some important part along the way.
It might be a lack of time to find the space to just breathe.
It might be an interest you forgot you had, or an area you haven't explored.
It might be a lack of confidence or self-love.

Your longing can be pretty much anything. It can have everything or nothing to do with creativity. But you need to figure it out or you risk getting stuck in this stage.

If you have that itch that you don't know how to scratch, it's time to try to figure it out. What lights you up? What are you curious about? What is the opposite of what you dislike? What is the opposite of what you're doing now? What do you wish you could do?

Too many walk around with that whisper and try to think it away.

Ignore it because it's outside of understanding. An emptiness you don't know how to fill. So we pretend it isn't there and go around with a void, telling us it's normal, and that there's nothing to do about it.

I'm saying we can figure it out, if you're prepared to take a look at your life.

The whisper of "that thing"

Did my sudden insight that I wanted to create make me go home and instantly start creating? No. But I started reading, thinking, fantasizing. 

Few of us head straight into an idea if it involves a change. We need to mull it over, let it sit and marinate in your head, twist and turn it, get comfortable with the reality of your longing. You may call this step the Pinterest stage.

Some think you should skip this part. I say don't skip it, but don't let it go on for too long. It's easy to fantasize, it's hard to do. But this secret moment with your dream can be important too. It's building inside of you, getting clearer, more real. You're testing it in your mind against the rest of your life. 

The second step in the process of beginning is to shape your dream.

But as every stage in the process of beginning, the dream phase needs to end.

Of those who figure out what their longing is about, many get stuck here. I was stuck at this stage for a long time, with my novel. I wanted to write, I wanted to be an author, but I didn't. I made Pinterest boards of writing tips and inspiration. I hoped and fantasized. But I didn't write.

It's so easy to say it's not the right time, that you're not ready, but those are just excuses. A dream is not something you find time for, it's something you make time for. 

It's a choice that not many dare to make. 

The act of choosing

The moment when you make the choice to go for your dream is maybe the most important moment of all. Why? Because that's when IF turns into HOW. 

When I decided to start my blog, I left the obsession of what if I do this and what would it be like and can I really do it to how will I make this happen? It propelled me out of my fantasy mode into reality. 

The third stage in the process of beginning is to decide that you're making dream reality.

It's scary to decide. Suddenly you're invested, you can fail or give up.  

Often we try to avoid this choice. We say maybe and some day. We're on the fence and don't want to commit. Or we say we're going to but not now. That's not a choice, it's still a dream.

To choose is it to say

Okay. I'm doing this. I don't how, or if I'm going to be able to do it, but I'm at least trying. Because I owe it to myself. 

Without a choice, you'll never get out of your head. And after that choice, you need to act. Fear and doubt may try to make you go back on your decision, so you need to start moving.

The pursuit of making it happen

This is where people usually think the start happens. But when you reach the moment when you actually begin moving forward, that's when the beginning is nearing its end. 

Now you're figuring things out, solving problems, diving into passion, walking into a new reality, changing and making. It's a process too, just as hard as the beginning, but it's a different kind of hard. 

THE fourth STAGE IN THE PROCESS OF BEGINNING IS TO START shaping REALITY AFTER YOUR DREAM.

Making it happen is scary and difficult. But you've started moving, and your job now is to keep moving. You've already come far. In a way, this is the stage you'll always be in unless you quit.

This is where the magic happens.
This is where dreams come true.