First steps are daunting. Setting up this website brought me face to face with my well-documented technological inadequacies. For example, as an inept website administrator, I once eradicated the entire member list from a board by hitting “refresh” when I shouldn’t have. Never being one to do things halfway, I managed to time my slip-up perfectly, the fateful click occurring the night before Thanksgiving. No one—not even the site’s administrators—could get in to fix my glitch, and most of our host’s tech support team were taking the holiday weekend off. For years afterward, the biggest threat I could wield was, “If you people don’t behave, I’m going to log in as an admin and do something!” And now I’m setting up a website. Daunting? You’d better believe it.
First steps require preparation. Research is key. You need to know what you know and what you don’t know. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and family who don’t know any more about your new project than you do, fear not: the internet is home to more than just cat videos. Whether you’re launching a blog or applying to law school or making boeuf bourguignon, someone in cyberspace can give you a few pointers, and maybe even a little encouragement to boot.
First steps can be scary. Especially when they might cost you. Making declarations means giving up a portion of your anonymity. Saying, “I’m going to lose fifty pounds” or “I’m writing a book” or “I’m going to run a marathon” means that people will be watching. Some will be cheering you on, while others will be waiting for you to fail. People of a certain age remember the opening credits to “ABC’s Wide World of Sports”: we don’t remember who the “thrill of victory” athletes were, but we all remember the skier who personified the agony of defeat.
First steps can be too easy to postpone. Unless there’s an external deadline, what’s the harm in waiting, right? Except that putting your dream on the back burner can become a habit, something that you’ll get around to someday, and you end up never getting to it at all. As Anne Lamott warns, that will break your heart.
First steps are essential. Obviously. You can’t move on until you take the first step.
First steps can be exhilarating. Even if everything doesn’t work like clockwork the first time, you still did it. In that moment, everything seems possible. Writers know this: there’s nothing like clicking “submit” when you send out that first story.
After that first step, there’s no telling what might follow. Stay tuned.