Just start, then enjoy the process

Before I sit down to write anything, I get nervous.

In fact, before I start anything for the first time, I get nervous. This includes a CrossFit workout, a conversation with a stranger, or writing about something I’ve never written on before (ala this entry). At times, it may take me an hour or more to work up the courage just to sit down to (or physically approach) the task at hand.

The key for me has become knowing in the back of my mind that once I do start, I get to reap the reward of enjoying the process.

When I used to write, I was in the habit of writing a sentence or two, then going back and editing those lines until they were ‘perfect’. This was not only inefficient, but my seemingly perfect sentences then didn’t allow for anything but equally perfect lines to follow. Not surprisingly, this got me nowhere except for feeling defeated as I would have half a paragraph for every half hour of work.

The thing with writing is, you never know whether your sentences are perfect until there is an entire body of work surrounding them. They need context- and that goes for any project.

Once I just plow ahead in my writing and get as many of my dis-organized and seemingly unrelated ideas down on paper (or screen), that’s where the fun begins for me. I get to cut words, simplify thoughts, make my ending my lead, and watch the whole thing evolve into a polished work that I am proud of right before my eyes.

Take this blog for instance. In the past few months, my mind had constructed a whole list of reasons (excuses) on why I shouldn’t just register a Blogger account and start cranking out posts. These were, among many others:

  1. I’m not original enough- my writing would just sound like a cheap re-hash of all of my favorite authors and bloggers
  2. I’ve tried blogging on repeated occasions and failed to stay with it every time
  3. I’m just a 23-year old intern who‘s never had a “real“ job, nobody wants to read what I have to say nor do I actuallly know anything about the “real” world yet
  4. I need to get a non-blogspot or WordPress domain before I start if I want this to go somewhere, and I don’t know anything about web design

While I didn’t believe any of these to be genuinely good reasons for inaction, they certainly gave me enough incentive to do other things that I convinced myself were productive, such as reading everyone else’s life stories instead of writing my own.

Again, this concept applies to much more than just writing. Art, music, fitness, learning in general…the true joy in activities is not always in seeing the final product, it’s being there for the phases beforehand.

The hardest part is always the beginning. And the most exciting and rewarding parts of the process almost always follow immediately after.

Often we get so focused on the desired result which seems so very, very far away, that we become so crippled by self-doubt that we neglect to do the easiest thing we can do- just sit down and start.

What have you been putting off in just starting lately?

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