Back in December of 2014, my first podcast episode spoke to listeners. I preached to myself, as well.
The message? Just get started.
You Only Need to Know ‘Enough’
I’d been putting off podcasting for years. There was a wave of interest in podcasting a few years prior to 2014, and I felt like I’d missed that wave.
But the opportunity stirred again. People in the online world were buzzing about podcasts and podcasting yet again, and I realized a second wave was swelling. Perhaps I could ride the wave this time, I thought.
Now, I’m not too good on the water—I survived a spectacular wipeout while waterskiing when I was in my early 20s. Thankfully, I’m only using that as an analogy. I saw it as a risk—launching a writing coach podcast felt as scary as pulling on those skis. The fear felt the same. But I decided to dig in and do it anyway.
I decided to do minimal, just-in-time research and then jump right in even if I didn’t think I knew enough.
I was tempted to have every duck in a row, but if I waited for that, I knew I would wait another week, another month, another year. I knew I just needed to know enough. I could get answers along the way.
To be honest, at the time I was kind of mad at myself for missing out before, so I was determined to move forward no matter what.
Start with What You Have
I couldn’t find a straightforward “podcasting for dummies” kind of tutorial. Those came a few months or a year after I started. I read what was out there, tried to figure out the basics, and jumped in with the equipment I had on hand. A couple of questions remained unanswered, but I forged ahead.
I used my smartphone and a little earpiece speaker I use for making phone calls. I pulled that very first audio file into GarageBand, did some light editing, uploaded it to my podcast host, and with that, I started.
Those first few episodes, I was nervous. The quality was adequate, but not professional.
And I did make a couple of mistakes behind the scenes. I was kind of upset and anxious about them for a week or so until a kind and patient person at Blubrry—that’s my podcast host—explained my options, helped me decide what to do, and walked me through next steps. Problem solved.
Basically, I had to re-brand the podcast because I couldn’t change the name without starting over. But the point is that even with the mistake, I was able to meet my ultimate goal, which was to get content out there—audio content—that could help writers. I didn’t wait another day and I didn’t waste another opportunity.
About a year later I heard the term “minimum viable product” for the first time and realized, “Ah! That’s how I got myself in motion!” That microphone was okay—it met my minimum standard. If I’d waited until I saved up for a nicer mic before starting, I might have missed the wave.
Get the First Pancake Out of the Way
Whatever it is you’ve been dreaming of doing? Do it. Start it. Grab your computer keyboard and type the first words of that novel. Set your phone on a shelf and record your first Facebook Live. Grab your camera and snap a first few photos for Instagram. Set up a website and start publishing articles.
Have you heard of the first pancake rule? I love it because I’ve literally seen its truth in action. Every time I make pancakes—or crepes—the first one or two are kind of misshapen and unappealing, though they taste just fine.
After those first two, I get the swing of things. The pan is the right temperature and the batter has sort of settled. Before long, I’m flipping stacks of beautiful, round, puffy pancakes ready to be doused in syrup, or piles of elegant crepes ready to be rolled up with some sweet filling.
But I always have to get those first couple of wonky-looking pancakes or crepes out of the way first.
Same with my podcast. Same with your project. If you haven’t created something like that before, you can have all the right ingredients and you’ll still have to do the first whatevers—you have to write the first paragraph of the essay or the first lines of the poem or the first scene of the novel.
If the first efforts turn out a little weird and misshapen, no one needs to know. The most important thing is that you got started and got those first efforts out of the way. You got familiar with your equipment, your ideas, your research. You got used to putting one word after another to compose a paragraph or craft a scene.
Don’t Be Afraid
Jump in, because you don’t want to kick yourself for waiting. Whip up something you can test. Give it a try.
Because I’m telling you, once you get started, you’ll figure stuff out. You’ll get information about what’s working, what’s flying, what’s flopping. You’ll solve problems, you’ll adjust, you’ll tweak your approach. Next thing you know, you’re going to be in motion, gaining momentum. Perfect strangers will send you emails or tweet about you, “He makes the best pancakes!”
If you start your project—if you keep going—you’ll finish. And when you finish, you’ll have something to show for it.
You’ll have a finished essay. A fresh poem. A manuscript draft. A first blog post. A social media update.
If you want to write, you have to get started.
Don’t put it off another day, friend. Turn on the griddle. Pour out the batter.
Make your first pancake. Today.
- The First Pancake Rule
- Ep 1: Just Get Started
- Ep 55: Writers Should Say Yes to New Experiences (waterski wipeout story)
- Ann’s (gluten, but easily adapted to gluten-free, dairy-free) crepe recipe
- All podcast episodes
- I’m an affiliate with Blubrry because I love them so much. If you use this link and end up going with them as your own podcast host, I’ll get a small affiliate payment for referring you. If you end up visiting another way and you’re signing up, you can use my affiliate promo code: writingcoach.
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