I posted yesterday about On Track, my seven-week writing ecourse. I thought you might like a little taste of the course, so here’s a shortened, modified version of the first lesson. You can also download the whole course introduction for free (pdf).

Hope you enjoy this post! 🙂

On Track is only open for registrations until this Friday (8th April), so if you want to join the course, I suggest you pop on over to the On Track page now!


You’ve got a big project which you’d love to get going. Maybe you started it once – months or even years ago – but it’s been stalled for a while.

  • You registered a domain name, but you’ve never got round to starting your blog
  • You’d love to write and sell an ebook, but you can’t find the time to begin
  • You’ve got 10,000 words of a novel tucked away in your wardrobe – they’ve been there for a year

And you probably feel bad, or sad, about it. You know that if you could just get it done, you’d feel great. You wish you were more self-disciplined, more focused, more creative, more …

… well, more like a real writer.

I’m gonna let you into a secret here. You’re already a real writer. And the pros struggle just as much as you do. (Ever since I got back from Austin on March 18th, I’ve been meaning to start work on a new project. I only managed to begin yesterday.)

It’s absolutely normal to feel a certain sense of reluctance when starting a big project – or when you’re getting back into one that’s lain dormant for a while.

The thing is, you’ll never feel quite ready to write. You’ll always think that there’ll be a better time – when you’ve got more energy, when life isn’t quite so hectic, when chores have been ticked off. Writing is hard work – emotionally, mentally – and there’ll always be a great excuse not to write.

But you want to write. And here’s how:

#1: Pick Somewhere to Start

One of the reasons we get stuck is because we don’t know where to begin.

If you have a huge project with no obvious beginning, start with whatever feels easiest. That might be a section of your ebook which doesn’t require much research, or a post for your blog which is straightforward to write.

Sometimes, one particular section of a project seems especially attractive. You don’t have to start at the “beginning” – if you’re itching to write Chapter 3, jump in there.

Above all, don’t get bogged down deciding where to begin. There’s rarely one perfect place – and you’ll end up with a complete project eventually.

#2: Make a Writing Appointment

If you’re going to write, you need to carve time out of your schedule. Block out at least an hour, ideally two. During that time, you’re going to write.

If you’re not sure you’ll stick to that appointment, try:

  • Getting out of your house. Take a notebook and pen, or your laptop, to a local cafe.
  • Setting your writing time an hour before your favourite TV show. If you know that you really do only have an hour, you’re more likely to get on with the writing!
  • Telling other people – your spouse, kids, parents, Twitter followers – that you’ll be writing, and that you’ll need to be left in peace for an hour or two.

Really can’t find an hour? Then block out just fifteen minutes – first thing in the morning works well, or straight after dinner.

#3: Give Yourself a Warm-Up

Instead of staring at the blank page, trying to force yourself to start, do a writing warm-up.

That means spending the first ten minutes of your session writing as fast as you can, about anything at all. You can pick a word, idea or theme, or just pick from one of the three below prompts:

  • A blue glass frog falls and breaks.
  • “There’s never any sunlight here.”
  • The worst idea I ever had was …

You can write fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry … whatever you want. The point is to get your writing muscles moving – you can delete the piece as soon as you’re done.

#4: Use a Timer

Timers aren’t just great for writing warm-ups. They can help you focus on your big project.

There are a bunch of timers around – I tend to use Tick Tock Timer, but you can find plenty of others. When I want to focus on a piece of writing, I typically set a timer for anywhere between 20 minutes and one hour, and while the timer is ticking, I just write.

Maybe you feel there’s no real difference between setting aside an hour in which to write, and setting aside that hour with a timer ticking away. All I can say is give it a try – I’ve been amazed how effective this is for keeping me on track.

Over to you…

  1. Write down the name of the project you want to get going on. If you want, share it here in the comments.
  2. Now, set a timer for 15 minutes and work on your project. You can manage 15 minutes, I promise!

Enjoyed this post? You can download the introduction to On Track completely free (you don’t even need to give me your email address).

And if you’d like to receive weekly lessons during April and May, and have the chance to interact with other writers and ask me anything at all about writing, then check out the On Track page. By the end of May, you’ll have made serious progress with your project. But move fast – registration’s only open until this Friday (8th April).