How to start.

It’s Friday and I have to write a blog post. I could start with a humorous anecdote, maybe something self-deprecating —I’ve been doing a fair amount of that sort of self-flagellation lately. Maybe about the time I fell asleep in the library in college and was so embarrassed when I was awoken by another student that….

Or how about a shocking  fact —  someone just told me that in a recent poll 80% of Americans said they want to write a book (I wonder what percentage want to read one?). Or maybe a bold assertion, like “I shot a man in Reno, just so he would stay still while I drew him…”

It doesn’t really matter what I write in the first draft of the first paragraph of this blog post. In just a few minutes it’’ll be revised, moved, or deleted. And yet those first words are the most important and difficult ones I will write today.  Not because they need to be brilliant or breakthrough or pithy or genius. But because I have to write them.

I need to get something, anything down on paper or up on the screen so the gears will slowly, finally start to turn.  Overcoming inertia is the hardest part of the creative process. But momentum is pretty easy to gain once that first line is down.  

The worst thing I can do is to stop and think about what I’m doing right now ….  Whoops, I just did.  I stopped to write a transitional sentence and nothing worked, even though I rewrote it six times. Another part of my brain was engaging. The critical, persinckety part that is there to evaluate and rewrite and haul out the ol’ Roget.

But it’s too early for that set of tools. I’ll come back and prune and polish later, get rid of all the egregious typos (how do you spell egregious?), see if any of this palaver makes sense and is worth sharing.  But not yet.  For now I just need to slam and peck and throw up characters in a line. 

Polishing has its place. But polishing only matters when there’s a nice pile of raw material to grind down. And I’ll only have that — if I start.  

14 thoughts on “How to start.”

  1. dear Danny, your blog is so good, the starting is what counts. For over a year now I have been doing a pen drawing after breakfast, with my coffee, no matter what. Thanks to your book. But lately I have battled to decide what to draw, and with faffing and changing my mind, I have ended up rushing off to work in an Undrawn State. And you know how sad that is. Well, this morning I opened your book and there was one of your self-portraits. I had drawn your face from your last Party blog, so badly, it was the first drawing i scratched out. SO: careful, mindful portraits for the next week. Thanks again to you. And hopefully I can produce a likeness of the one and only Danny Gregory.
    Regards from a Sunny South Africa xxx Margaret.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Absolutely needed to read that this morning. “Momentum builds momentum, » right? I’m having my coffee — second cup already — knowing that I want to paint today, but don’t know where to start. I have no excuse, I have all the time, I just don’t know where to start.

    So I think I’ll just go doodle something now, and see where it takes me.

    Thanks for the nudge!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this! It is a great description of how I blog. I have a collection of drafts, beginning of posts that were used to get my creative juices flowing before I go on to write a totally different post! Thanks for sharing this!


  4. I feel like you read my mind just now! I’ve been trying to start painting for a month now, possibly as a result of burn out in December, but every day that goes by makes starting seem harder. So this morning I thought I’d prep some boards, just a linen colour, so they’re not white anymore, ‘more procrastination’ I thought…but that process, seeing the paint move on the board, adding some white because ‘why not?’, well that was all the start I needed! I feel inspired again… and the work is now started 🙂
    So, to anyone who is stuck, I recommend you get paper and two colours out and start moving paint around, you will be surprised where it can lead you.


  5. Around two in the morning two days ago I thought about a sketch I wanted to do. I had one issue that was holding me up. When I opened your post my answer was staring right at me. Now I know how to go about it (I think). We will see cause starting is where it’s at isn’t it? Thank you Danny.


  6. Years ago at an office job at the Kennedy Space Center, I asked a co-worker how to tackle a computer problem. She had no system but said “just begin”. These words have stuck with me for 3 decades now. It’s a bit more difficult to embark on a creative project but as usual Danny gives sage advice with his talented blog. Keep up the good work – you have fans and groupies LOL.


  7. ok, who doesn’t love anyone who can successfully use persnickety, inertia, egregious and palaver in four paragraphs? I had to look up palaver… (fun, rigamarole, folderol, bother, song and dance, ado). I love you Danny Gregory. Apologize to Jenny for my inappropriate confession of ardor. It’s just your mind that I venerate. Does she ever try to open your head and look in?? “Ohhh, so puuurrrty.” ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just now finished an article in FSG Work in Progress called Escaping Structure by Joseph Scapatelli. To brutally summarize it he talks about writing a noir style novel where he attempts to pervert the tropes of film noir. As one of his writing professors tells him by the time a writer gets to page forty the writing becomes what the story wants and not what lofty plans the writer might have for it. I love this! And I think it is true of all creative plans. Whatever it takes to get us into the pool of creative work will do.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks, Danny, for once again, taking the fear out of facing the blank page. It seems we all need to be reminded of this at least once a week. 🙂


  10. I read about an artist who creates “littles”.
    For me they save the day…no big amazing thing has to happen and I don’t HAVE to do it in any chronological order or anything. To see littles go here: and what I celebrate (like Danny says all the time) is just the ordinary things that happen. My bananas, a waffle, the bird outside the window, a pencil sharpener. I know you know. This is actually quite life changing. Read Hannah Hinchman’s books…she says the same…and the late Mary Oliver…just pay attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love “I shot a man in Reno – just so he would stay still while I drew him…” A new take on Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues?

    You give us all the little push we need. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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