Have you ever noticed that the longer you try to evade starting something, the bigger, scarier and uglier The Start becomes? Whether it’s your next novel, or next chapter, or even something so simple as your next blog entry, you will have to clear that monster of a hurdle looming larger and larger the longer you put it off: The Start.
We’ve all heard it said before, “starting is the hardest part of writing” (or just about anything in life, I might add). But why should that be? After all, most of us have discovered that once we look the beast in the eye and take him full on by the horns, like the pilgrim Christian facing Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation, scary Mr. Start turns out to be nothing more than a little pussycat. He is easily put in his place, and we, the pen-bearing pilgrims, are permitted passage into the heart of our novel, chapter, blog…or whatever the writing journey that lay ahead may be.
And yet, the next time we meet Mr. Start at the beginning of some other road, we melt all over again as if we’d never conquered him before.
Might I offer my own little bit of personal insight as to why I shrink time and time again from the starting line? For me, it’s pretty simple really: I fear failure. In order to fail at something (say writing this blog), I must first begin or start that something. So, (says my self-preserving but rather boring side), if I don’t start, then I can’t possibly fail! Eureka! Or not…
So essentially, the big bad Start Bogeyman is a monster of my own making! He is my best effort at self-sabotage. As long as I build him up in my mind as a grizzly, menacing, unconquerable beast, then I can find one-hundred reasons per hour why I should just put off meeting him… just a little longer…maybe till I’ve got a stroke of inspiration…or a big wave of energy…or a publisher coming after me with a large stick…
But I think a much better idea than sapping all my creative juices turning pussycat into Apollyon would be to make a little adjustment to my thinking cap. For example, I might try sticking these handy dandy words to my brain with mental post-it note:Note the little word going, ie. getting started! Learning to embrace failure is a BIG topic for another blog post (or a thousand), but here’s the gist: failure will be part of the journey to getting it right. That’s certain. But what is equally certain is that you and I will never get it right at all if we DON’T. START. SOMEWHERE!
Trust me, I’m preaching to the choir. The sooner you start — that first line, word, capitalized letter– the sooner you can get on with the journey. Who knows what adventures might be in store!
So, all ye fellow writers or wanna-be-writers out there, I dare you: Pick up your ballpoint sword, look that blank page squarely in the eye, and….(drum roll)…. START!
You’ll soon be asking yourself just what you were so afraid of.