The Art of Non-Conformity

Thinking differently, questioning assumptions, and living a life of grateful adventure

Starting in the Middle

When you have trouble with the beginning, begin in the middle.

Amy wrote in and said she was struggling with writing her book. “I know I have something good to share with people!” she said. “But I’m having a hard time just getting started.”

I’ve written about working through process a few times before—see how to make decisionsstarting a business, and how to finish, for example.

But here’s a new trick: when you’re not sure how to begin any creative project, don’t start from the beginning—start from the middle!

The perfect introduction to a book or long article often comes much later in the writing process… so don’t worry about the introduction or first chapter. If you have twelve chapters, or four sections, or however you divide up the process for your project, start with what you know best. Work on that. Then work on something else. Whatever you have to do, just keep going.

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At some point you may feel more confident returning to the beginning, and it’s probably a good idea to do so before too long. When you work from the middle indefinitely, the manuscript (or whatever) has a habit of becoming disjointed, and it requires some effort to stitch it all together.

Don’t worry about that for a while, though. Worry about starting–from wherever you can.

***

Over here I’m taking off for a week of seclusion in South Asia. I’m bringing along a book manuscript of my own, which I initially started in the middle and am now attempting to forge into an entire coherent draft.

It’s a long process, but mostly a good one. I’m looking forward to making progress and moving on to the next steps.

How about you—what are you working on? Have you ever tried starting from the middle?

Chris Guillebeau travels the world and writes for a small army of remarkable people at chrisguillebeau.com.

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