Democracy Monument at Night. Bangkok, Thailand.

Starting Your Next BIG Project – 3 Simple Steps

Do you want to write a book? You want to start a blog? You’ve been thinking about this project for a while, but it seems so huge, you don’t know where to start (or maybe, you’re just too afraid)?


The size of this task may be threatening, but you are the Architect, you are inspired by the greatness of others, and you see this project as a challenge, an opportunity to become great yourself.

So, Architect, how do you build your monument? What is the first step you take?

Write Down Your Thoughts: Every great monument starts with a blueprint. You have your ideas buzzing around in your head, but at the moment, that’s all they are.

You need to write them down. If you are writing a book, or starting a new blog, the first thing you need to do is figure out what you are doing. Ask yourself questions:

  • Who is this for?
  • What do I want to achieve with this?
  • What does this project need?

Then, go write. Do not worry about structuring your brainstorming, not at first. It is important to put your ideas on a page, to nail them down, because they will probably change. You will develop your own system for organization soon enough, but for now, you need to sketch out your ideas.


Plan for Your Future: From your brainstorming, you should understand the inspirations and impetuses for your project. You should have a general, if indistinct, image of your finished project in your mind, and you should be eager to start (don’t worry if you are feeling afraid, fear is a normal part of this process).

But wait –

This project is too large to complete in one sitting, maybe even a hundred sittings. Inspiration alone will not forge your glorious creation into reality. You need organization.

  • Think of your schedule. When can you work on this? How can you turn this into a routine? Progress follows on the heels of habit (Do not fear habit. As long as you are careful to keep your mind open, habit will not inhibit your imagination).
  • Where can you work on this? Where can you go where you will not be interrupted (either by other people, or by your own lapses).

Every great monument is built in pieces.

  • How can you turn this project into small, manageable building blocks? If you are writing a book, do you work on a character alone, and then insert them into your story? Do you work chapter by chapter? The more smaller you can make your blocks, the less daunting this project will seem.

Give Yourself a Deadline: Fear is a powerful motivator, and unfortunately, you must use the most terrifying word to motivate yourself: Deadlines.

This is the final step – give yourself deadlines. Exact dates.

Be realistic. For writers, first drafts will take longer than you think, and editing will take even longer. Give yourself the time you need, and remember, you can always have more than one deadline. Do architects build floors and ceilings at the same time?


Should you tell others? This is a difficult question, with far too many answers to go in depth. All I can say is you shouldn’t promise something you will not deliver.

If you tell no one, and you fail to complete your project on time, nobody will think of you as a failure. But who will hold you accountable?

My best suggestion (and I am admitting no mastery on this matter) is to tell someone who will support you, who will ask you about your project, and will encourage you to keep going. If you don’t know anyone like this in person, find someone online (I am here! Ask me!).


A Project’s Beginning

Recently, I finished the final draft of my short story, The Outward Path (Which you can read here, or download the ebook from Smashwords here), and I’m editing two more. This means that I’m in the perfect situation to start my newest project: my first full-length novel.

Deadline for my first draft: August 31st, 2015

Deadline for my final draft: December 31st, 2015


I will be keeping weekly word counts on twitter, and other updates through the blog. I want to encourage you to join me, to plan out your own project, and to set your own deadline. I want you, Architect, to build your own monument.


Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to like, comment, and follow the blog. Tell me about your own projects, how you plan for them, and what you’re going to be working on over the next few months.

Image courtesy of Mark Fischer via Flickr Creative Commons

11 thoughts on “Starting Your Next BIG Project – 3 Simple Steps

  1. Deadlines? Schedules?

    Ahhhhhh structure! I hate structure!

    We fears it…

    …but I cant argue with your points here. I had a grand goal of 1000 words of writing a day – and did well for a month and a half… then things went south. On reflection, part of the problem is not having strict idea of what I would be working on – 500 words on this short story, 10 words on that novel, 2000 words on this book review. No firm goal or idea.

    The ONLY thing i was able to consistently get written was the 100 word fiction – it has a clear start times, finish times, and clear word limits.

    It has structure.

    Ug. I need to work on this.

    Great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It burns us!

      But honestly, that’s a great example. Aimless, wandering Gollum gets the rope, and suddenly he’s the greatest guide in Middle Earth. It’s painful, but it works.

      For me, I think the important thing is to not set myself up to fail. I used to try the ‘X words a day’ structure, but like you, I either ended up dropping off – OR I would spend it in all the wrong places (I can’t tell you how many short stories I’ve written when I was supposed to be editing something else).

      Right now, I’m working on broader goals:
      – Write everyday (no minimum!)
      – Read and analyze at least two short stories a week (very informal analysis, again, no minimum word count, I’m just focusing on figuring out what each story taught me)
      -Focus on the book. All other stories MUST take a backseat (of course, the blog allows me bursts of escape from the book)
      -Stop procrastinating!

      OK. The last one’s a lie. I’ll never stop procrastinating.

      I’m sure I’ve asked this before, but do you do most of your writing in one spot? At home or elsewhere?

      When I can, I schedule writing times for myself, at a coffee shop or the library (they both seem to have the same effect on me).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With work & the kids my time is pretty limited to after 7pm & they’ve gone to bed. The computer is in the lounge- where my wife’s generally working & watching TV. I traditionally wear headphones & that works well… Unless I’m not feeling it & distraction & procrastination kicks in.

        Focus eludes me… I’ve just started reading a KISS guide to: Getting Organised- let’s see what I can get out of that 🙂


    1. I’m reminded as ever of Robert Benchley’s Principle: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. So to get the writing done, just find something else that you can convince yourself is the most important thing you could possibly do, and the writing will happen without your even noticing it while the other thing doesn’t get done.

      It’s scary how effective it is, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow. I was going to try to reply with something funny, but now I’m freaking out about things I’m supposed to be doing and everything from the last few weeks makes a lot of sense and I need to go write. Now. Thanks, Joseph.


    2. Some people swear by them. Some people swear AT them. But I don’t know anybody who claims to work better without a goal in mind.

      I’d love to see it happen, but I’d probably stick to my deadlines either way. Couldn’t agree more with you, Herminia.


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