S.T.A.R.T. Workshop 1: S.T.

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I’m excited to share the first article in our workshop with you. Whether you’re a writer, blogger, podcaster, or other online creative, we’ve got something for you. It’s called the S.T.A.R.T. Workshop.

Over the next few months, we are going to help you to S.T.A.R.T. that project you’ve been putting off. Whether you want to start a WordPress blog, write a novella, or start podcasting, we want to help.

Each letter in our workshop represents part of our action plan to help you on your journey. The first letter S, stands for Say, “Say what you feel, it’s about passion.” The second letter is T, it is for the “Tools that take you there”. One deals with why you wish to say something, the second is about how to say it.

There are more letters, but today, let’s focus on just these two. They cover many facets. Most importantly they deal with the courage to pursue your passion until completion. Whatever your dream is, these two letters can help bring clarity to your goal.

You have something to say, something that means a great deal to you. What is keeping you from saying it? For me, it was a combination. One part fear of failure, the second part, how hard I perceived it to be. Finally, I had to allow my passion to overcome my fear.

[tweetthis]The Human voice needs the vibration of your vocal chords to produce a sound.[/tweetthis]


To share my passion, I needed a vehicle with which to communicate it. The human voice needs the vibration of your vocal chords to produce a sound. Just as you need some tool to help vocalize your hopes, and to drown out your fears.

The tool I want to focus on today is that of Writing. It’s both a means of sharing your message, as well as the method to share it with. Writing is dear to my heart. It’s the building block of your project, whether a book, podcast, or a movie. It will help you figure out what does, and doesn’t work.

Along the way, there will be more than one obstacle. One of them is writer’s block, its cold, blank stare silently mocks it’s victim. My goal is to help you to silence it, by helping you find your voice.

Getting Started

I love writing, and in some way, I always have since I was a child. In writing, the trouble for me wasn’t getting started. For me, the beginning of an article, story, or essay was the easy part. One of my strengths was actually the beginning of a story.

Unfortunately, I found finishing them to be much harder. When I started I had both a good introduction and a good ending in mind. It was the murky middle that got in my way. It would stall me out, and more often than not, would trick me into giving up on that writing project.

As an adult, The Lord has helped me with this. Several eBooks later, it’s not the roadblock that it used to be. There are still times when the untamed interior and I wrestle, but He has helped me to combat, and overcome it. Whether your problem is getting started, overcoming the middle, or finding an ending, my desire is to help you to do the same thing.

There are two problems with getting started writing. One is the actual attempt at writing, we will deal with that in the section of this article called Writing Tools. Before that, I want to talk about the psychological barriers to writing.

Psychological Barriers:

Maybe it’s been your dream to write a novel, or start a blog since you were a child. Perhaps you tried in Elementary, or High School, and you were told that your writing wasn’t good. A lot of times, it’s less painful not to try, than to try and have someone laugh at your efforts.

I understand that. I cringe every time someone reads something that I’ve written. I also get excited. I’m thrilled at the possibility of bringing some enjoyment to them with my writing. Don’t you want to experience that? Isn’t the reward of that experience worth the risk?

It’s a question that you have to answer for yourself, or else you’ll never finish, because you’re afraid to start. I had to answer that question. I had to pick my pen up and write again. I had to submit it to someone who I knew could be critical. It was worth the risk. Once you’re ready to put your message to paper, you must find your place to write.

No, it doesn’t have to be a cabin in the woods, it could be a loud booth at your favorite restaurant. Silence works for some, noise works for others. Some people have a very carefully crafted place to work, others jot notes on a napkin during lunch.

Find the where that works for you. In writing, why, how, what, who, when, and where, are more than journalistic points, they are key stones. You’ve got to answer certain questions to succeed. “Why am I doing this?” If your why is important, than you must figure out your where.

Writing Tools:

How is next on your list, and the last question we will concern ourselves with today. How is different than why, how is about filling up the actual blank page. How begins your story. Here are a few tools to get you started.

These are not methods for everyone, but they will work for many of you. Tools come in different shapes and sizes. We forget that there are different methods for different times, and not only one tool for each person. Some of these may seem simple, and they are, that’s why they work.

Some people are more comfortable developing a plan before they start writing, and that’s ok.  Once you’re on your path, that can be a successful method.  I’m not as concerned about it now for this reason, you’ve spent hours, days, and years thinking about what you want to say.

Now isn’t the time for planning, that will come later.  Now is the time to actually start writing.  Forget everything else, and focus on it.  I know that writing may not be your ultimate goal, but it is a necessary step in the process.  It will shape your message in ways that nothing else will, essentially the writing itself, is planning for success.

Sharing your message is complicated, when we’re nervous, we make it more so. How is about simplifying it into a manageable state. As you read this, view these as exercises, which can also be simple. Cross fit is complicated, but walking isn’t. Even in the midst of cardio and zoomba, walking is still considered one of the greatest exercises ever.

Three Words

First, start by placing only three words on your page, that’s all. “Write the words you feel about what you want to say on your page.” Not the sentences, not the phrases, but the individual words. Words like pain, hurt, fight, battle, victory, and overcome.

They don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be eloquent. They are your written first words. We don’t expect a baby to form sentences at first, just words. Give yourself the same time. Simply write a few words on the page.

It doesn’t have to be perfect at this point, it isn’t about that. It’s about getting the building blocks of what you want to say from your heart to your hands. Those few words say more than you’ve been able to say before. They are the raw emotions you feel, the abstract and concrete things that make up your story.

They are building blocks, just as with a skyscraper. The foundation of a skyscraper isn’t the gleaming layers of glass everyone sees. It’s the stone and concrete foundation that builds the building.

Was the coat you wore when it happened green? Then write the word green down. Later on, you can describe the green. Maybe it was hunter green, or maybe the light glistened off of it in the sun. We will deal with editing, it’s a vital piece of the puzzle, but we’ll focus on that a little later.

Now isn’t the time to worry about editing, much less a final edit. We all edit a word or a phrase as we go along, but complete editing comes after it’s poured from the vase of your heart to the vessel of consumption, either the page or screen.

Stop Thinking, Watch The Movie

Second, stop thinking for just a moment. Stop focusing on either your fear, or your opening sentence. Close your eyes, pretend what you want to say is a movie that’s already finished and playing in your brain. What do you see?

This isn’t a movie you’re writing or directing, your subconscious has already accomplished that. Just watch. When it’s over, go back, and watch again. Only this time, whether mentally or physically, take notes.

What is the first image that you see? Write it down. Who is in your movie? Write a brief description of them. What is the sequence of events? Jot it down. All of these are clips, cliff notes of what you haven’t written yet. They’ve been inside you so long, you’ve given them an identity.

Feelings have their own size, shape, and tone. Jot this down. Again, you have something more than you had before. Now you have more of your building material for the next layer. After this, look at that blank page that was mocking you earlier. It’s beat up, bruised with physical or digital ink. It’s no longer the intimidating one. You have left your mark on the first page of your story.

Where To Go From Here

Take that page, and decide where to go next. What tool will take you from your first page to your final page? One method is a classic, it’s an outline. It intimidates some, but for others, it’s the perfect way to start. You’re not writing a novel, you’re making a list. It doesn’t have to reference foot notes and other scary things that remind you of a college English project. It’s simply a list. If nothing else, start by writing the outline this way.

Beginning:

Middle:

End:

Now, split the words from your first page into where you think it will go in your story. Beginning, middle, or end. Those descriptions you wrote, plug them in to one of the three areas. It doesn’t have to make sense yet, just keep filling this page. It’s the second one you’ve written.

You are ready for a huge step. One that you should be proud of, it’s your first sentence! You are working towards your goal now, and not only dreaming about it. Transfer your first word, or point into a sentence. Grammar isn’t a factor yet, remember our point of reference, a baby’s first words.

Once it’s on paper, you can flesh out your first sentence with a second. Now, wrap up the first two sentences with one or two more. It may take the same procedure to get there, or you may find the next two sentences write themselves. Either way, before you know it, you’ve wrote your first paragraph.

See What You’ve Got

Now, look at the paragraph, but don’t look for quality, not yet. Look for periods. Are there any missing? Did you put a period where you should have used a question mark? I do it all the time. Any misspelled words? Guess what? You’ve just proofread your first paragraph!

After all of this, look at the word structure. Say your first paragraph to yourself. What’s missing? What would you have liked to say differently? Change a word, here or there. Look at your last sentence, if it matches the others, you’re good. You’ve just performed your first literary edit.

I know this may seem trivial, but it’s not. If starting isn’t your problem, that’s wonderful. For others that first paragraph can resemble your worst literary nightmare. You must conquer it, one word at a time.

Look back on what you’ve written, without being critical. It may not be perfect, but it’s your first step. Like a baby’s first words, a baby’s steps can be a little shaky, that’s ok. We cherish a child’s first words and steps because they mark a milestone, so does your first page.

Your work isn’t over, it’s just beginning, but don’t look now, you’re a writer. That pesky writer’s block is subdued in a corner. He’s not dead, you’ll face him again, but next time, you’ll be less intimidated. For now, even if it isn’t published yet, you’re an author!

Obviously, the road ahead is a long one, but this first page should help prove to yourself that you can accomplish your goals. The new worries in your mind will most likely be this, “Is it any good? Do I have any talent? Will anyone want to read it?”

[tweetthis]…we are all storytellers, and we all have a story to tell.[/tweetthis]


Those are important questions. Before we leave, let me address them this way. While it’s true that not everyone is cut out to tell their story in a literary way, we are all storytellers, and we all have a story to tell. You simply have to find the way to tell your story.

It’s not a matter of whether or not you have something to say, and by the way, you do have the ability to say it. How you articulate it doesn’t reflect your value. You are valuable, and as long as it comes from an unselfish place, you have something to say.

Not all of us will write the great novel of our time, but more of us are writers than we think. In the end though, you have to put it on paper, even if it’s only for yourself. An actor needs a script, an entrepreneur must have a business plan, and a teacher needs a syllabus.

No matter what format it takes on, you had to write it down. It will be your guide in this creative journey, we’ll build on it from here. It’s your goal sheet, your to do list, and your road map. Now that you have it, what do you do next?

That will be the subject of our next workshop article. What happens next? A free website, your own domain name, or recording a podcast? Future workshop articles will help you with WordPress themes, plug ins, and posting practices. The dictionary defines what as an interrogative expressing inquiry about the identity of a person. Why is about passion, how is the means, but what you do next can define you.

What you do next will shape your audience’s view of yourself.  This is important. It will help them to identify who you are by what you do.  What will produce your who, both who you are, and who your audience is. 

Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to aid in your creativity. Our goal here is always to add value through words and pictures, in this case articles and videos that will help you S.T.A.R.T. telling your story.