Writing one of the first blog post for my new website Start3Things (S3T) is daunting. I’ve had S3T swirling in my head for over three years. As the disparate pieces are coming together into a pattern, a story, and launching is near, I get stuck on the first blog article. Pretty appropriate I suppose.
The next stop after getting stuck is doubt. So the searching for more answers, questioning the premise and then “googling” how to do an article outline as if I’ve never written a word before. Isn’t that always the case. We move from inside certainty to scanning the external to verify our worthiness. And excuses to stop come easily from here. You know what they are since we all have these excuses in common. “I really don’t have what it takes to do this. I’m too busy. I need to perfect it before launching.” And so it goes with endeavors that challenge, scare and are also most important to pursue. The ones that won’t be silenced until we launch and keep on launching.
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls it resistance. “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” And he continues with key points on resistance
“Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justification for why we shouldn’t do our work;
Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses come from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it;
Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”
So back to the fundamentals and to keep moving. I returned to a method that works when I remember to do it - morning pages. In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s morning pages method is to write 3 pages of longhand every morning about anything. Writing slow enough to record thoughts with accuracy but no editing, judgment or stopping. Free flow writing, laying out on paper what’s in our head, busting up some dust and bringing clarity in the process.
With the morning pages method, I started a “First Draft” Notebook for S3T and the result is this article and it will be the foundation of all of the future posts as well. It’s the foundational groundwork, the required preparation before “painting” the walls.
The first step is always the hardest and our inner critic tells us that it needs to be finished and perfect at the get go. Vincent Van Gogh’s response to that voice - “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
That’s the magic of the first draft. It’s the first step that moves us to the finish line. We so often don’t start because we let our thoughts wander too far ahead and then we let fear finish us off. When we get the first draft out, we can then start shaping and molding it. It’s hard to shape a blank page, to see beauty unfold on a blank canvas.
The other method Cameron prescribes to get “unstuck” is the “artist date” – once a week, go on a solo expedition to somewhere new – assigned play. It’s a way to gain insights and get that breakthrough. Once a week doesn’t sound like enough, does it.
Every time I get lost and stuck, I wander outside of myself and get more lost until I figure it out one more time. It’s inside us, waiting patiently to be let out to be revealed. And it begins with one fearful step followed by one a little less fearful one and then another.
And Steven Pressfield encourages our pursuit, “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Come join me on this Start3Things journey. Let’s do the work together. First draft, here you come.