As soon as I start, I love writing. As I write these first few sentences my irritation is melting away. My breathing relaxes. It’s like a runner running. It feels good.

And yet, I’ve been putting off writing lately like it was an obscure form of torture. Weird. Why? No idea.Ok, that is part of it. I’ve had an idea drought.

Often ideas bounce around my brain like they’re in a pinball machine. They hit other ideas and then my brain just can’t keep still.

No ideas: that sounds like a valid reason to delay writing. But then again, I write about whatever is on my mind. And so, here’s a post about getting on with it anyway.

Just start

Yes, I know that’s already the title of this post. Just start. If you don’t know where to start, start here, start now. Start with something bad. Start with the wrong thing.

Bad is ok

So do it badly. Enjoy the complete freedom to do it really badly. Make a terrible cupcake with bilious icing. Knit a lumpy sock. Make the worst stir-fry in history. Write a god-awful poem. Amuse yourself with bad.

Start small

Pathetically small is ok. When I’ve been avoiding something I sometimes use the this trick I learnt from Zen Habits.

Starting small means really small: write one sentence. Do three push-ups and call it a work-out. Put your sneakers on and call it a run.

You tend to do more. Starting is the hard bit. Just write your name on your tax return. I bet you are tempted to fill in your address too.

How will it end?

When I’m writing, I don’t always know how a piece will end or what will be in it. Sometimes I can feel the whole piece before I start. Other times, it’s a maze, I make choices as I go. That can be more interesting. Like a large handbag, you never know what’s in your head until you empty it.

You don’t need to know how it will end when you start.


Stagnation only changes through movement. If you’re stuck, the only way out is to do something. Move. Once you’re moving, you build momentum and it’s easier to keep going.

Avoiding starting

I’ve been feeling a lack of creativity. I’ve used that as an excuse not to start. Nothing stimulates creativity like demanding it.

Having said that, I found many ways to avoid writing. I hand-washed my jumpers. I bought extra hangers. I dealt with the mould in the bathroom. I even shopped for work clothes (and I hate shopping).

Why procrastinate?

I have no idea. I don’t know why I would do a bunch of things I dislike in order to avoid something I love. I didn’t do my latest tax return but that would have been the next thing.

Vulnerability and creation

The only plausible reason for putting off what you love is that it’s scary. Creating is unpredictable. There are no guarantees. But that’s a good thing. Predictable is safe but it can be boring. It requires no new response. Creation is a risk but it’s enlivening too.

Enough waffling

So just start… stop reading this blog post. What do you really want to do?  What’s important to you?

Now don’t tell me your tax return is really the most pressing thing right now. You need help.