“I’ll totally start writing more posts on my blog this year … when I’m ready.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever told yourself something like this.
I hate to break it to you, but “when I’m ready” is a poisonous phrase to all writers. For some reason, we seem to think we have to have our lives all put together before we can put effort into a project. We have to be financially stable. We have to wait until we move into our new apartment. Not until school’s over, until we get a raise, until we’re done with xyz.
Money is important. So is school and work and personal life shenanigans. But if you spend your whole life waiting until you feel ready to start working toward a goal, you’ll spend your whole life waiting. You’ll never actually get to work on that goal at all.
The truth is, you’ll never be ready. Not fully. You’ll never have a moment when you’ll say, “I’m going to do this right now” and go off and do it. Our brains are very good at coming up with cons that seem to outweigh our pros. Excuses are powerful. We can talk ourselves out of almost anything. You probably already have. You will continue to do so. I know this because I’ve been doing it all year. We all do it. Now it’s time to stop feeling guilty and start doing something about it.
If there’s something you want to do, you have to do it — and you have to start now.
I’m not saying you have to launch a new blog tomorrow or start writing a book next week. Realistically, some things take time. But even though you may not be ready now, you can — and should — prepare. Because if you don’t start doing SOMETHING, if you don’t act on your inspiration, you’re going to put it off again. And again. And again.
Don’t write a post for a new blog tomorrow: jot down a few ideas for a name; a topic; a tagline. Don’t start writing a new book next week: start sketching out your main character tonight. Too many people think “starting now” means jumping headfirst into a brand-new project as quickly as possible. In fact, that’s one of the easiest and most guaranteed ways to fail.
Don’t jump in headfirst. Submerge your toes. Don’t stand on the edge waiting for the right moment to jump, because it won’t come. If you ease yourself in slowly, and think carefully about the steps you’re taking, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. You’ll have more confidence. And you’ll be far less likely to quit within the first two weeks because you couldn’t keep your head above the water.
I know many of you aren’t good at breaking big things into small pieces. (I have a feeling most people have this problem, and I’m just an alien.) You want to go all in, when you think you’re ready. Decide you’re ready for one small step instead. Plan things out. No one is going to steal your idea (though if you want to snag that domain name before someone else does, that’s probably fine). Whether you think you’re ready or not, just start. Start small, and Make Things Happen at your own pace. Before you know it, you’ll have developed what you wanted to all along.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.