The Difference Between Starting & Building

Great Writers Build Badge

This is Day 8 in the Great Writers series. Have you picked up a badge yet for your blog or website?

A lot of people launch a blog and think they’ve built one. They start a club and think they’ve created an organization. They’re wrong.

There’s a fundamental difference between starting something and actually building it.

“Building” something creatively happens the same it does in the “real” world — with a lot of sweat and pain and grunting. It’s not easy; if it is, you’re doing it wrong.

So what does this look like when it comes to writing? It means showing up and doing the work, day-in and day-out. If you’re not doing this already, you need to be.

Why do we need discipline?

  • Because one discipline begets another. Take up the habit of jogging or working out and just see how it affects the way you approach the rest of life.
  • Because sometimes the Muse doesn’t clock in until you do. Stephen King pictures his inspiration as a blue-collar guy who doesn’t show up for work until the boss (which is you, by the way) does. Show him you mean business.
  • Because it’s good for you. If you take writing seriously, you’ll do serious (i.e. better) work. I promise.

The challenge

So let’s build something. You don’t need to start another project you’ll never finish. You already probably have enough of those. Instead, I want you to do something truly creative:

I want you to finish something. Anything, really. Just pick a project — an essay, a blog post, maybe even a book — and finish it. Not tomorrow. Today.

It should never take longer than 30 minutes to finish anything. If it does, you’re not breaking the project up into enough chunks. Which will lead to stalling, your worst enemy.

Find something and move it across the finish line. Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. And so on.

If you’re still doing this in a month, you’re building something. Until then, you’re just managing tasks. Pick a few that are worth your time, and keep with them. Your work deserves this.

Bonus assignment

Was that too easy? Good. You’re growing. Next, I want you to build an essential tool every writer needs: a team. Every book I write, every site or project I launch has a team, a core group. You need one, too.

Pick a handful of people (no more than 20, but no fewer than two) and ask them to come “onboard” for a project you’re working on. What do you do with this team once you’ve assembled it? Anything you want.

Use this group to launch a book or proofread a piece or test your website. Start a conversation on a blog or in a coffee shop and find ways for everyone to help each other. Whatever you do, be specific. You’ll get what you ask for.

To conclude: A writer doesn’t just start things; she finishes them. Do this enough, and you actually build something worth paying attention to.

What did you finish? Share in the comments. And if you’re blogging through the series, share your post in the linkup for today.