One of the hardest parts of any creative endeavor is sitting down and getting started. You might have the perfect idea for a bestselling novel, or maybe, a groundbreaking product or app that’s going to change the world. 

When ideas hatch into plans, it’s natural to go from thunderbolts of excitement to heavy clouds of pressure. In the idea stage, our imaginations are already projecting our lives past the project. We’re already on stage accepting our Nobel peace prize, basking in the fame and fortune of our genius creation. 

But then comes the rub: We have to actually sit down and start. 

The exotic dance of inspiration becomes a paralyzing realization that before anything, we have to put pen to paper and begin.

In her famous meditation on life and writing, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott gives some of the best mindset advice you’ll find for starting big projects. She tells the story of when her 10-year-old brother was struggling to start a school report on birds. He had been given three months to write it and now it was due the next day. 

“We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

It’s the overwhelm of “Where do I start? How do I start? There’s just so much to do!” that stands in the way of many dreams—creative and otherwise. But whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish, the best course of action is to zoom out. Take a step back from the maze of tasks and go one by one. Word by word, bird by bird.

And before you know it, you’ll be soaring above the clouds and on your way.

Source notes: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott