Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Most Important Step You Can Take

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Bryan Hutchinson. You can find him on his blog Positive Writer and download his free eBook Good Enough. You can also check out the writing contest he’s hosting there.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But for one reason or another, I always put off the dream. I set it aside and allowed time to pass, doing things that seemed more important.

Important Step

Photo Credit: Jon_Marshall via Compfight cc

I neglected to take the most important step you can take in pursuing your dream: the first one.

I built up excuses in my mind about opening myself up, not thinking anyone would want to read my words.

But in reality, I was succumbing to the death knell of so many would-be writers. I was stalling, because I didn’t want to be exposed and rejected.

What does it take?

This is the most common question I’m asked about writing a book, starting a blog, creating a network, or doing just about anything.

What’s required? How do I do this? Will it be hard?

The answer may be simpler than you think. It is the most critical ingredient to doing something that matters:

You’ve got to start.

Keep it simple, don’t complicate the process, and don’t over think it. Simply start somewhere (where you are right now is probably as good a place as any).

Too many of us delay doing work that matters due to seemingly legitimate reasons. I did it for years.

My fear of exposure made me constantly postpone taking the step that mattered most. The first one.

I would tell myself, “I’m not a good writer.” But I now understand that the message is more important than the level of quality I consider my writing to be.

I had to step past my insecurities and write, anyway.

They did it

What do Stephen King, JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Seth Godin all have in common?

They started.

And they all had work that was rejected.

Stephen King sold his first story The Glass Floor for $35. It was a start. But the first novel that he completed The Long Walk was rejected. I’ve read that Carrie was rejected 30 times and Stephen finally gave up and threw it in the trash, but thankfully his wife fished it out.

JK Rowling says she started Harry Potter while on a train and she finished it using an old manual typewriter. Rowling was on welfare at the time and a divorced, single mother. Twelve publishing houses rejected Harry Potter before it finally found a publisher and in 1997, Rowling received an £8000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council so she could carry on writing.

Steve Jobs famously started his first computer business in a garage with Steve Wozniak. Wozniak insists it actually all started in Jobs bedroom, but what matters is they started somewhere. By the way, the computer they created was rejected by both HP and Atari. That’s how Apple was born.

Oprah suffered an abusive childhood and watched television as her escape while dreaming of becoming famous. She started a broadcasting career at WVOL radio in Nashville. She later went on to television where she co-anchored a 6 o’clock news broadcast from which she was fired. Oprah started over again in morning television and eventually became the host of the number one talk show on television for 24 seasons.

Seth Godin frequently talks about his failures. That’s good news, because it also means he’s started enough projects to fail over and over again and yet have major successes along the way. Seth has revealed that he has gotten 900 rejection letters from book publishers.

Now it’s your turn…

Your work might get rejected, too, but even the best of the best get rejected. None of us are safe. Sooner or later we’ve got to take the step, dip our toes or dive in.

Here’s what you can do today:

  1. Open your word processor.
  2. Type a title for your book.
  3. Write the first page.

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t even have to be great. Simply start. Make it physical. Make it real.

Keep in mind that whatever you write doesn’t have to be published or shared with anyone. The only mission at hand is to write. Write freely and openly, mix ideas to create a unique perspective.

And see what you end up with.

It’s the starting that matters

I finally wrote my first book, a memoir about my childhood, at the age of 37. I had no plan, outline or goal. No preconceived notions or dreams of grandeur. I was no longer concerned with whether I was a good writer or not or if anyone would read it.

Earlier this year, I gave away free review copies of my memoir on Story Cartel, and it became their second most downloaded book on the site.

If we don’t start, we’ll never know what could be.

Publishing my memoir inspired me to create a blog and social network in a specific health niche and since then I’ve reached people all over the world.

Thanks to starting, I learned that I love to encourage people, especially those overwhelmed with doubt. Because of that, I’ve wanted to step out my original niche to reach even more people, but I’ve I put it off.

Maybe I didn’t think I was good enough or was afraid of rejection. But then one fateful day, I took an important step and started a new blog I had only dreamed of but consistently delayed.

In only a few months, I received an award for the blog. Who knew? The point isn’t just that I’m better than I gave myself credit for (although that’s a good point, too). It’s about starting anyway, regardless of what the results may be.

Sometimes we need a push to get started — and that’s okay. Maybe this will be that for you. I hope so.

Are you ready to start? Share in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

Bryan Hutchinson is the founder of the blog Positive Writer. He just released a new book about writing called, Writer's Doubt.

It’s Not Too Late to Become a Writer

Download my free eBook on why now is the best time to become a writer.

In this book, I share everything I’ve learned bout what it takes to start writing for a living — and how you can get started today.

Click here to download the free book now.

  • Pavel Merzlikin

    Hello!

    Nice article!

    I am a young writer. Russian writer! But I don’t drink vodka and dance with bears:)

    My first book (“FASHIoniSM”) will be released in September/October for Amazon Kindle, Kobo,etc.

    I would be glad if you viewing my blog.

    https://merzlikinpavel.blogspot.com

  • Another encouraging and positive post, Bryan. So many have “failed” in their first attempts, but they didn’t quit. Neither should we. I love Thomas Edison’s quote about failure: “‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” It’s true that if we at first don’t succeed, we try again.

  • La McCoy

    Butt in chair, fingers on keys,
    Now write.
    Great work Bryan

  • Lisa Van Engen

    True statement! It took me so long to get started. I was so afraid. I am so, so thankful that I did. No’s and all.

  • Cathy

    I love your blog, Bryan. You’re always so honest about your feelings and I find that so refreshing. You have doubts and fears, but write anyway. It inspires me to keep writing, too, even with my doubts and fears that plague me at times. Thanks for being so real in a world that is so fake at times.

  • Raza

    Good post Bryan. I too finally got down to writing and self-publishing my first book in ebook form, after many years of thinking when will I get my first book out of me. I did it in July 2013 this year. I made the start alright. And that start has resulted in quite a few dominos falling in series. After my creative non-fiction ebook of 30,000 words was over, I got into the flow. Next, I started a blog and have started posting regularly there. And then, fiction also started asserting itself in my mind. Now I have written my first short story too that I have published on my blog. So, yes, the start made the ultimate difference. And Bryan, the first post of yours that I read was ‘The Secret To Becoming Famous and Creating Something That Matters’. It remains my favourite so far.

    • Thanks, Raza! I am happy to hear you are moving ever forward! That’s exciting. Btw: that’s one of my favorite blog posts, too. I hope to write more posts that make your favorite list! Thanks for letting me know.
      Keep moving ever forward. Write. Write. Write

  • Dale Haag

    Good morning! I share a passion with all of you, and this is to make a difference! I have been told countless times to write my story and it WILL make a difference!
    Thank you Bryan and Jeff, I just believe I heard the exact words I needed! Awesome ! Stay tuned……my story just may……..make a difference!
    Dale

    • No, Dale. Your story WILL make a difference. And THAT’s awesome!

  • Ester

    Hi Bryan. I wrote a blog post about this about a year ago. Can I use that blog post? Thanks! Ester

    • Ester, are you talking about the contest? Yes. Simply repost it and follow the instruction in the contest post. Looking forward to reading it.

  • Thanks for the post, Bryan!

    I’m a Nashville-raised songwriter/guitarist. I’ve been getting things together to start a podcast in which I’ll be interviewing music industry pros to provide info and ideas to inspire living a fulfilling and balanced life in music.

    I’ve had doubts about my ability to see things through, and I needed a good push this morning.

    I just downloading your free ebook, Good Enough, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more of your work.

    Thanks for being open and honest.

    • Hi Joshua, that sounds like some pretty exciting work you’re doing. I am glad I could provide you with a little push. We all have doubts, and sometimes they take us to the right time and the right place.

      I hope you enjoyed “Good Enough”. Thanks for reading it!

      • Yes, I enjoyed “Good Enough.” Very encouraging! And I like your approach of having few words on each page. It really helped me focus and take in what was written.

        Thanks again!

  • Great post Byran and solid examples! It’s truly amazing how your world can be turned upside down (in a good way) when you take action and start!

  • Thanks Bryan … YOUR words speak volumes … in between.

  • Sandy Blackburn

    Bryan, you are a lucky man! Starting writing so young. I am 55 and just getting started. I appreciate your encouraging words. And especially relate to the part about loving to encourage those overwhelmed with doubt, and thinking no one would want to read what I write. Thanks to Jeff Goins for sharing your post. I look forward to reading more.

    • Sandy, 55 is young! Any day, at any age, is a good time to start. You have so many experiences to share with the world. It’s time to share them.

  • Starting today. I can do this. https://www.theendfocus.com has sat idle long enough. Thank you for this post.

  • I

    Thanks for this post, Bryan. It reminded me that all the fears and anxiety are normal and that for me to really get something of what I love to do, I have to start somewhere. Regardless of what the outcome is.

  • Rosanne

    Thanks for posting this – it was just what I needed to read today as I dither around on my blog revamp. Just start. I think I will… today!

    • How’s your blog revamp going, Rosanne? Post the link, I’d like to check it out. Pressure… I know, right?

      • Rosanne

        I wanted to get things up and running and then I forgot to respond. I write at http://www.rosannebowman.com. I moved from blogspot and have found the technical side somewhat challening in the setting it all up phase. I decided to jump in and just tweak as I go because waiting until I figured it all out was paralyzing! 🙂

  • Nice post. If you want to be a writer, simply start writing. Could be about anything. I always had a dream of being a fiction writer, writing novels and so on. Never could find a plot or story. Instead I started writing non fiction about my experiences and how they could help other people.

    Magically (or not…) now that I have a couple non fiction books out, I am starting to write fiction. Somehow the act of non fiction writing has freed up my creative juices so to speak.

    Remember you don’t have to get it perfect, just get it started.

    • Exactly, Michael. You don’t have to be perfect, just get it started!!

  • My dear Bryan,
    You are so right.
    “If we don’t start, we’ll never know what could be.”
    I have started writing my memoir. My staff is designing the book cover now. “The Cat With The Bent Ear.”
    All the best,
    xo
    Love Pooh

    • I know you’ve already started, Pamela. Keep up the great work you and your staff are doing!

  • JAC

    Your messages are always so uplifting. Thanks.

  • Very inspiring and encouraging post Bryan! I especially can relate to this quote here in your post:

    “My fear of exposure made me constantly postpone taking the step that mattered most. The first one.”

    I started a blog too but it never got opened to the public until recently. I still wrestle with doubts about going forward since I started.

    Thank you for your encouraging words Bryan!

    • Cool, Joe. What’s the link to your blog? I am glad you found the courage to go “public” because that’s the best way to practice.

      • Hi Bryan. My blog is innervironment.com

        Thanks again for your words of encouragement!

  • Livia

    Great post. I love this sentence “My fear of exposure made me constantly postpone taking the step that mattered most” This is just what I´ve been doing for years. You´re right, it´s time to start. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Livia. Be sure to share your start with me. I’d like to know about it and read it.

  • Armaan Khanna

    I’m your new fan Bryan 🙂 The whole article I read twice. “..But I now understand that the message is more important than the level of quality I consider my writing to be.” eye opener line.

    • Great Armaan! The message is always most important. Doesn’t hurt to have a great editor too, though. 🙂

  • Keith

    Once again, hits it! Now how about another post on the second most important step….Finish. How many of us have started multiple times, yet the same fear that prevented us from starting now prevents us from finishing….because if we do, we are that much closer to someone ‘seeing it’ and by that we will be judged. Thanks for the inspiration, as always.

  • Bryan,
    Great post. And I agree. It’s that first step that matters. If we don’t start, we’re just dreaming. Starting makes our dreams realities. I think of all the people your book and your blog have helped and I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to reach others with our words. Thanks for the post.

  • Thanks for that, it was really encouraging. I just started my blog and this is a really good encouragement as I find myself constantly questioning and wondering if I should continue writing at all.

    • You should continue to write, even if you think it is just for yourself. Write to write, the audience will come.

  • carolyn studer

    It’s so good when you touch someone, even if it’s just one person. I think that’s the best motivation of all to keep going (second only to revenge,lol).

  • Great job Brian! Excellant examples of writers who didn’t give up. Interesting about J.K. Rowling: I read she would write parts of Harry Potter on a napkin in an Edingburgh cafe while her baby slept in be stroller. Thanks for the motivation!

    • I read that somewhere too, Dave. Her story is quite inspiring. In years to come her story will be considered a myth, but we know that reality of success is never as we imagined it would be. Keep going!

  • Joseph Hentges

    Bryan, very nice post. Good inspiration. I did write a short eBook and have sold 9 copies in 6 weeks, but who cares, I went through with it.
    Now you are inspiring me to keep on, keep’in on. Good job by you!

    • I wouldn’t underestimate selling 9 copies. It’s 9 more than they guy who hasn’t gotten his done yet (me!).

  • LadyJevonnahEllison

    Bryan, yours is a message of hope. Thank you for inspiring us to START. I’ve just finished Jon Acuff’s bestseller, START, and it motivated me to write a book and start a blog. I don’t even have a good title yet, but I’m excited for the momentum I’m starting to see. Great article!

    • Awesome! Titles can come later, and sometimes it is better that way!

  • I’m a recovering perfectionist, and that was a big hurdle for me in starting a blog. I knew I wanted to create something, but there were so many details that had to be worked out. I also worried that I wasn’t a good enough writer. Now I’m a year in and have a great (albeit small) community built up, I see my writing getting tighter and tighter, and I’m making a decent side income. None of that would happen if I didn’t write that first awful blog post.

    • I’m glad you wrote it, Tom. Couldn’t be too awful, because look at where it is leading you. I’m a recovering perfectionist too, so I get you!

  • Sheri Graziano

    Great motivational article. I am starting right now.

  • Victor Sotomayor

    Thanks for the inspiration, every one of us is capable of greatness and we need to start somewhere, thanks for the advice.

  • Liton Biswas

    Great post. Sounds inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Great words Bryan. I just got started on my next big project the other day, but the day before that I wrote a post about how tough it is to start. It reminded me of being on the track team in school. I remembered waiting in the blocks for the starting pistol to fire, my whole mind and body in agonizing anxiety, but when the race would start all my mental and physical effort went into doing rather than worrying. The freedom and the fun of creating happens after you take that first step!

  • renee

    Bryan, as always . . . a great post. My biggest obstacle is time management–as a SAHM who also is a WAHM–I sometimes forget when I’m a Mom vs. when I’m a business owner! So I recently set up “office hours” that gives my kids notice that emergencies like “snack” or “she made me feel bad” will have to wait. I gradually extended my “hours” to an actual hour!

    Be blessed as you are a blessing.

    • Good luck with those “office hours” Renee 🙂 And thank you!

  • Jess

    Thanks for sharing this with us, I think it’s what I needed right now to read – both for writing, and various other projects that I want to do right now. Starting always IS the hardest part. Me and my friend have talked about this numerous times. We’re always much better about talking about goals and dreams, etc, but not always actually taking the time to do them. I’ve been following the networks related to writing for about 2 weeks now, and although I’ve journaled a little bit.. haven’t written all that much, and keep putting off the actual story that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. My grandma passed away about 2 years ago and it became really important that I gave something from my perspective and viewpoint but I haven’t exactly figure out in which way I want to do that yet. thanks again for your words, I’ll have to get some writing done tonight 🙂

    • Hi Jess, sometimes it is best to not try to figure it out and just let the writing speak for itself. Sit down, start typing and don’t worry about what you are writing. Let go. Don’t worry. Just write. Whatever comes out is what you need to come out.

  • Well this is the nice article that you have shared here. I liked you once sentance which is “If we don’t start, we’ll never know what could be”.

    If anyone understand this line that then they will always get success.

  • Stephen King, JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Seth Godin are real jewels in technology world. They inspire me , it should start with a low note but it will reach peak after dedication. Dedication is must for dreams to became true.

    I have started my new blog journery https://www.bloggersideas.com/

  • Boni
  • Brandon Davis

    Bryan,

    I have been wrestling with the idea of creating a movement, but I have let the fear of being rejected hold my idea prisoner.

    But, that ends today. It’s time I start living life on my terms and do something that truly fulfills me.

    Thanks for the simple, yet inspirational post.

    I’m off to change the world…

    Brandon Davis

  • Onibalusi Segun

    Thanks for the great motivation Bryan.

  • Leila (louvasari)

    Thank you Bryan for your inspiring pieces of advice. Glad I stumbled upon your blog!

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