It’s usually about 5:30 a.m. where I live. My computer sits on my desk in the dim morning shadows. My coffee cup patiently awaits me to my left, and quiet jazz music slowly fills the room. Depending on the time of year, the sun may be up already, or it may remain dark until the winter sun appears upon the horizon. My husband is slowly getting ready for his day, while our kids are still dreaming in their beds.
And this is what my mornings often look like. Nothing fancy. Nothing miraculous. Nothing groundbreaking. Just me and the early morning hours.
There’s often this misconception that people who practice the arts were simply born with more creative tendencies. And while it’s possible that some are more naturally gifted than others in various disciplines, the majority of artists became artists by simply making the choice to become them. By practicing. By learning—like any other skill—and committing to it.
Having said all of that, the single biggest question that I get asked over and over and over again is this . . .
How do I start writing?
How do I make the time?
How do I begin?
And the single biggest answer that I have for you is this . . .
You just do.
You just start typing words.
You just make the time.
You just begin where you are.
But you definitely don’t wait.
Don’t wait for the story to be complete.
Don’t wait for life to get less crazy.
Don’t wait for the ideal setting to present itself.
You just start.
One word at a time. One minute at time. One day at a time.
The thing about writing—like any new habit—is that it takes time. It should be treated like a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not about completing an entire manuscript by the end of the month; it’s about making room in your life for something to grow.
I’ll admit that it can feel hard in the beginning. Any adjustment to our lives comes with resistance. Especially when there are a hundred other things that need to be done. But the words have to start somewhere. The habit has to begin somewhere. The desire has to be unleashed somewhere.
And you’re the only one that can embrace that somewhere.
Mornings work for me because they’re quiet and uninterrupted and don’t take time away from my evenings with my husband. But maybe lunch hours—locked up in a closet somewhere—work better for you. Or at night, after the sun has set and the inspiration rises. Maybe you dictate to your phone during your daily commute, or you snag some time in the afternoons when your children (God willing!) are napping for a bit.
Something will work. But an excuse won’t.
Trust me when I say that these two hours of my day aren’t always pretty. Sometimes it’s a masterpiece . . . other times, it’s total garbage. But it’s not meant to be pretty. It’s meant to be practice. It’s meant to be present. It’s meant to give up a piece of yourself to the cause.
I truly believe that half the battle means letting go of the expectations that moments spent creating have to look and feel a certain way. Creation is seldom ever a linear experience. It’s often a lot of nothingness followed by moments of inspiration followed by roadblocks. But the point is, you’re doing it. And each time you do it, it gets a little bit easier. The words flow a little bit smoother. The time passes a little bit faster. And before you know it . . . you’re writing.
And for the record: life has taught me that this can be applied to pretty much anything.
Just show up.
And when you begin to show up enough . . . something begins to happen. Not all at once, but in tiny little increments.
Art gets made. Abs get toned. Minds get renewed.
But you need to do your part . . .
Because whatever it is that you want to do, it’s there . . . it’s willing . . . it’s ready. It’s just waiting for you to meet it somewhere.
So just start.
And when that temptation sets in and all of it feels too hard . . . please know this: I’ve experienced more life during those two hours spent in the early morning light than I ever have sleeping in.