Only Begin


This is one of those blank cards you can find at twee hipsterish stores, and I've actually bought it twice mainly because I had forgotten I already owned it.

I didn't buy it to send to anyone, of course.  I bought it as a reinforcer for that bedrock Lichtenbergian Precept, ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS. (The second one is now displayed in my writers' corner at Backstreet Arts.)

A key aspect of ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS is that it frees you from the King of Hearts Fallacy. You don't have to begin at the beginning; you can start working on a project wherever you have ideas. When I work with people on beginning their work, whatever it is, it is this concept that blows their mind the most. 

For writers or composers especially — since their work is essentially linear — this is a tough Precept to follow through on.  If you think about it, however, how many times have you ripped out a great beginning to your novel or your piano sonata only to stall because you can't think what "comes next"?

Don't keep hammering your head against that great wall of the Unknown Next.  Skip a few measures and write the end of the sonata, or the transition to the development section.  Write the climactic scene between your hero and the villain. Go ahead and create the stuff you know you want to exist—connect the dots later.

And if they don't connect?  Pfft.  That's what SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION is for.