The following is a true story, but it is also an allegory. (Classy, huh?)
Not long after my wife and I were married and the dinosaurs died off, we bought a house in which we no longer live. (Right away, allegorical, no?) It was the first house I'd ever owned, and the first one in which I even considered the idea of renovation.
The front room was nice, but small, and it would have opened to the dining room, which had clearly been added on to one side. Except there was a problem: There was no entrance to the dining room through the front. You had to walk back into the kitchen to get in. The wall on the dining room side had a built-in shelf which could barely hold much of anything and was almost entirely decorative. Nice, but not useful.
Hang in there, writing fans. I'm going to tell you a serious truth in a little bit.
To make a long story... just as long as it would have been otherwise, we decided to create a door by taking out the not-so-useful shelf and then cutting a door into the wall. But I'd never done any actual renovation before, so I called in my expert, who happens to be my closest friend, a guy who actually knows how these things work, and as a bonus, is six-foot-two and strong. The kind of person you want around for home improvement as opposed to, say, me.
I was, to put it lightly, tentative about the idea. Not that I didn't want the doorway, but I wasn't sure about my own ability, and after all, was about to cut a great big hole in a wall in my house.
But my friend, who asks to remain nameless (which makes it difficult when you want to call him), assessed the situation for about ten seconds. "You want to get rid of the shelf and make a doorway, right?" he asked. Jessica and I agreed that he had the basics of the situation down, okay.
"You sure?" he asked.
"Okay." He balled up his fist and punched the dining room wall right behind the shelf. A hole appeared, and the shelf fell out on the other side. I was glad we hadn't put anything on the shelf. "That's the first step," he said.
See, that's the biggest secret of writing, or for that matter anything else you're nervous about doing. You just have to have the nerve to do it. And once you do, you'll see that the process itself isn't all that mysterious or scary. It's something you learn to do well by doing it.
Does it help to know about drywall and how far apart wooden studs are, and what is a weight-bearing wall? Of course it does. Studying ahead is helpful, but it doesn't always take the fear out of the task. The only thing that removes them effectively is taking the plunge and doing it.
So if you're wondering what special process you need to employ, what music to put on, what foods to eat, what typeface to use (Times New Roman or Courier), what type of thesaurus to consult, just relax. You'll figure that out before you go.
The first step is the tricky one. Just ball up your fist and hit that wall. The worst thing that can happen? You break your knuckles.
Maybe you should use a hammer, now that I think about it.