Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How to Get Started... with Anything

 “Good Morning. My name is Denis LaComb and I’ll be conducting this workshop.”

I’ve done several of these (‘How to Get Started Writing’) workshops now and the response has always been very positive. I’ve tried to take the mystery and confusion out of writing by presenting an approach that focuses on the best techniques that work for each individual in my class. I stress that there is no one way, no direct approach, no simple technique to use for everyone. In other words, not one approach works for everyone. I try to hammer home the idea that ‘whatever works for you, go for it!’

Writing is a craft, an art form and a learned skill. But above everything else it is a discipline. Like anything worth pursuing, writing takes time and effort. There are no shortcuts or magic pills to take. It’s only the time spent with fingers on the keyboard or pencil in hand that counts in the end.

I think the same can be said for a lot of other ventures in our lives. It might be forging strong relationships, building wealth, raising kids right, or living a full and satisfying life. Too often we become distracted or bogged down by simplistic, trite clich├ęs that substitute for solid realistic advice.

I tell my audience that you need three things to become a writer:
            Desire…you won’t know if you have it unless you give it a try.
            Perseverance…you won’t know if you have it unless you try.
            Talent…you won’t know if you have it unless you complete your project.

These three points can be the same for just about any other goal or aspiration you have in life. In my workshop I equate writing to building a house.

Building a House                                         Beginning to Write your Story
1.      Start with the foundation                              1. Decide what to write about - the topic.
2.      Build up from there with the framing           2. Gather up all the elements of your story
3.      Finish the project                                          3. Write out your elements in a story form

Some folks might see this correlation between writing and other goals in life as a bit of a stretch. Lord knows I’m no expert. I’ve stumbled more times than I’ve advanced. I’ve gone backwards as often as I’ve advanced a step or two. Yet I’ve been persistent and determined to reach that elusive, ever changing, ever-shifting nebulous goal in front of me. And it’s worked for me.

So to take that analogy a little further I’ve captured the main points from my workshop and tried to translate them into this generic approach to reaching one’s goals.

  •  How to Choose your Genre (or goal)?

What form of writing and what style of writing is best for you? There are many forms of writing including journaling, poetry, memoir-writing, fiction, non-fiction or even letter writing as you discover your own unique writing voice, style and purpose.

The caveat here for writing or any other goal you have in mind is to answer: what is your passion, what drives you, what topic/s  make you want to get up each morning and write. Remember, you are not writing for anyone else but yourself.

So translated, what is it that you really want? A better relationship with someone, creating a comfortable nest egg for retirement, raising ambitious, stable children, finding a purpose for being here on earth, etc.

1.      Begin by writing down your ideas, helpful phrases, relevant facts, etc.
2.       Capture those thoughts and ideas that are central to your goal.
3.       Do whatever research is necessary.
4.       At some point, these ideas will organize themselves and give you clearer picture of exactly what it is that you want.

In my workshop, Points Two and Three deal with organizing those ideas, goals, aspirations. Finally it is time to build on your foundation. In the workshop, we move on to number 4.

  •  How to Build a Treatment (or Plan of Action.)

Once you have enough information then begin to organize ‘plan of action’ with a beginning, middle and end or by chapters, or in chronological or sequential order. A few examples might be:

Building Relationships
            Make connections that bind
            Try to see their point of view
            Be kind and understanding
            Be patient

Creating Wealth
            Spend less than you make
            Make saving money an intricate part of your lifestyle
            Go above and beyond in your work (9 – 5 simply doesn’t cut it)
            Ancillary income is one approach

Raising kids
            Give them unconditional love always
            Push them to go beyond their perceived abilities
            Give them experiences in lieu of material things

Granted, these are overly simplistic steps but I think you get the idea. Nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished without trial and error, hard work and bumps along the way. Persistence is the answer.

If you hustle harder than the next person you will succeed. Let’s face it, there is no better way to live your life than to do whatever it is that you love to do.

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