Starting is the hard part

I’ve been making a mini Lego-alike model from Wisehawk:

It’s tiny, fiddly fun. The instructions are clear, and it’s not rocket science… apart from at the beginning.

At the beginning you’re using the simplest pieces in the simplest patterns – like this:

It’s should be easy, but it’s actually pretty hard to put them together. You’re starting from scratch so there’s nothing to hang the pieces on, and they tend to scatter as you try to attach the next layer. Progress is slow because you don’t have a sense of how the bricks fit together – the pattern hasn’t emerged yet. I had to keep squinting at the instructions as I reordered the bricks, trying to remember what went where.

As the model takes shape, though, everything starts to make sense. Building gets more fun when you start to see what you’re building and you go faster as you get an intuitive sense of how the model fits together. The last bits – the bits that really make it look good – are the easiest of all.

Brick by brick

It’s the same with bringing ideas into the world: we start with pieces that sort-of go together, but we don’t really know how. The pieces scatter easily and don’t add up to much.

But as we find parts that go together, we eliminate possibilities and begin to get a sense of how the larger whole might look. We gain momentum, things start to seem obvious, and it comes together faster. The finishing touches – the parts that most people see – come together relatively easily.

Starting is the hard part.

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