4 Reasons Why It’s So Hard to Start Writing

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You know how hard it is to start writing.

Although I will be specifically talking about writing in this post, I think this difficulty of beginning can apply to any project. You have an idea, you think it through, you promise yourself you’ll start it tomorrow, and then tomorrow never comes because you keep putting it off.

I often find myself staring at the blinking cursor at the top of the page with no words there. I have an idea, but how do I start it? Dialogue? Describe the setting? How do I start off a blog post? I’m sure many of you can relate to this to some extent.

Why is it so hard to start? I have a few ideas about this.

We fear not being able to finish what we started.

Failing doesn’t feel good. Nobody wakes up excited to fail something. So if we don’t start a project, we can’t have the opportunity to fail…right? That’s not a great philosophy to live by, but I think some of us might have that subconscious thought from time to time.

The only way to overcome this fear is to attack it head-on. It can be difficult to finish what you started writing, especially if it’s long, but imagine how accomplished you’ll feel once you have it done. Let that be what drives you to the finish line.

The blank page is daunting.

A cursor blinks amid a sea of white, sending a shiver down your spine. How is one supposed to create a brilliant blog post, a highly-detailed universe, or moving poetry out of nothing? Isn’t it wild how our imaginations can create absolutely anything we want it to through words?

To do this, we need discipline. I’ve learned that if I don’t sit myself down and say, “You’re going to write whether you like it or not,” it won’t get done. The empty page is the biggest speed bump. Just crack your knuckles and get to writing, even if the words don’t flow right away.

We don’t know how to start.

If you’ve ever heard of NaNoWriMo, you probably know what planners and “pantsers” are. I tend to be a “pantser,” meaning that I rarely plan out what I’m going to write. I’m becoming a planner, however. I’ve learned that it keeps me focused. But my pantser way of life always leaves me wondering how I’m going to begin a story.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my story ideas as movies. Do I picture a drone-like view of the setting first, or dialogue between two characters that reveal a little bit about the situation? It’s difficult to decide most of the time, but the best way I overcome this is to pick one and write. If I end up hating it, that’s fine. I can always change it later!

I have also learned that the best way to start writing is to start writing. Sometimes I begin with a journal entry in a different document. I spend a few minutes writing about my day or what I hope to accomplish in my writing session. Once I get started, it’s easy for me to switch over to my story and write for that because I already built up the momentum.

Writing can be hard work.

Writing doesn’t sound hard. All you have to do is transfer your idea onto paper/word processor via writing or typing with the power of language. That’s it. Easy peasy.

Sometimes, writing is neither easy nor peasy. Focusing can be a chore, there are one hundred other things you should be doing, you’d rather take a nap, the chair is too uncomfortable, or you have to face a topic that’s really uncomfortable to write. There will always be a reason not to write. When you’re faced with the temptation to back away from the computer or paper, ask yourself this:

What made me want to write this in the first place?

What put that blog post in your mind? What sparked that idea for your next chapter? What is that thought you so desperately want to share with the world? Things worth doing will be hard to do. Remind yourself why you wanted to do it and use that as motivation. Write it down on a sticky note and put it on the wall in front of you, if you have to. Write it on your hand, if that will help. You’ve set out to write for one reason or another, so you need to commit and finish.

What are your reasons for not writing? What makes it so hard for you to start a new project? I’d love to discuss it in the comments!

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