Ten Tiny Tasks: How to kick-start any creative project


Got a creative project you've been putting off for ages? A play half finished, a painting started then abandoned and forgotten, a poem just waiting to burst out of you if you'd let it, like the alien in the film Alien? (Ok, maybe not that last one; a little too graphic.) Read this Rabbit Hole and be prepared to go scurrying off afterwards to start that project today.

Ok. An admission. Every issue of Rabbit Hole is more for me than you.

When I say, 'Do you have a creative project you've been putting off and want to get started?', I mean, 'I have a creative project I've been putting off and want to get started.' Which reminds me of this exercise that I've been playing around with for a little while now. I got it from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.

The exercise was originally called 'Ten Tiny Changes.' The basic idea is that you write down ten small things that would make your life better, easier, or nicer. No grand shifts—no 'Get a new job' or 'Do five years of outstanding tax returns.' Just simple stuff like 'Buy flowers,' 'Get shoes fixed,' 'Clear some space in the spare room to do work.'

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" said Lao Tzu. So after trying Cameron's 'Ten Tiny Changes' exercise a few times and finding it really useful, I've been experimenting with a variation to get creative works off and running.

The way I do it goes something like this...

Ten Tiny Tasks

1. Think of a project you'd like to complete.

2. List a few major things that you'd have to accomplish to make that project happen.

3. Take a deep breath, and forget how impossible it all might seem at the moment, or how you don't have the time or energy right now.

This next step is essential. Don't skip it, rush it, give up, or get started on your project just yet.

4. Put on the kettle, make a cup of tea, break out those chocolate chip cookies you've been hiding from yourself.

5. Sit at the kitchen table and write a list of the ten easiest things you could do to take the smallest step towards achieving your creative goals. The smaller the better.

For instance: if you plan to write an article, one item on your list could be, 'Read the Wikipedia entry on the topic,' or 'Track down that news story that inspired the idea in the first place,' or whatever tiny thing you could do to get started.

6. Look at your list of ten tiny things and choose one as your 'must do' goal this week.

That's it.

Thanks for reading! I'm going to put the kettle on.