Ever needed to do something, but didn’t really feel like doing it? And it wasn’t even something you hate — but something you love.
Me — I’ve been dreading this moment for a while now.
It’s that terrifying moment when I start a new article and try to write something good. The problem isn’t with writing. The problem is with starting. There’s something eerie about a blank page staring back at you.
Once you’ve started writing and momentum takes over, it actually flows. Then you just keep reworking the same article — remolding it until it takes the shape you want: a child of your making.
If editing an article is like going to work every morning, starting a new one can feel as hard as interviewing for a new job. There’s so much uncertainty, and sometimes I just wanna stick to what I’m comfortable with. Sometimes I just wanna bask in the “glory” of my last article.
But I need to move on; I need to create. Today, I need to start over and maybe you do too. This is how we’ll do it.
Fear of the Peak (and the Fall)
Why is it so hard to start over? Maybe it’s because we’re afraid.
Every time I start writing something new, there’s this voice at the back of my head: “You’ll never write anything good again, sucker. Just quit.”
In my lifetime, I’ve probably written about 150 articles. You could say around 10 of them went “viral.” And maybe just 1 was an international hit.
It’s very possible that I’ve already written my best article ever. And maybe the rest of my writing “career” will be generating stupid content that no one cares about.
Sometimes when I listen to that evil voice — it makes me give up. Why should I try, when I realize I’ll never be as popular as Mark Manson, or that Facebook will probably go bankrupt before I get to 100,000 fans? Why not just binge watch English Premier League highlights instead?
And then I remember that the measure of one’s work isn’t in how popular it is or how many people click Like. I remember that as much as validation feels good, it shouldn’t be the main purpose of our work.
I remember that as much as I write to make you smile, I write to make myself happy too.
It’s not just about achievements. It’s about doing the work.
Fear of Losing Face
When I was younger, I was actually pretty good at everything I did. Or rather, I never tried to do anything I wasn’t confident about.
If there’s one nagging “regret” I have, it’s that I didn’t try enough new things. I think so, because I didn’t fail very often.
Because I had an ego. I wanted to live in a fantasy world where I was good at everything. New things were threatening and scary. Much better to pretend I was too good for them — so I would never look stupid.
But things changed later on in life. I’m thankful for the wise people who taught me I could do so much more — if I was willing to take risks; to be more vulnerable. So I learned to face failure, or at least the possibility that I might fail.
When I write today, I will be forced to face immediate feedback. Either people will love it, hate it, or don’t care at all. Some people will mock me and write me nasty comments. Ouch.
But I know I can only start over; I can only create again — when I put down my pride and ego. When I prepare myself for hate — or even worse — apathy. I need to be able to laugh at myself.
If all of life is an experiment, and our story is one grand movie. Then I’m just the nutty professor, trying things that will blow up in my face. It’s messy, ugly, and people will sometimes look and laugh. Actually, people will always look and laugh — no matter what you do.
But at least we’re still acting.
Fear of Change
330 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton taught us his first law of motion: Things will continue in their paths, unless an external force acts on them. It’s commonly known as the “inertia” law.
For me, writing is a never-ending fight with inertia. It’s easier to write at 8 am every morning once I’ve established a routine. But when I miss my routine even just a few times — it becomes super easy to slack off.
Besides, I’m lazy (the Latin word “iners” which inertia comes from actually means “lazy”). And I’m a procrastinator.
The bed feels so comfortable. There are a thousand interesting articles to read on Twitter, and a million interesting people to stalk on Instagram. Before I know it, my scheduled writing time has passed and I need to rush to work.
But I know Newton can help me. I just need to take the first step. I need to start with the easiest action that will get me moving. Momentum. For me, it will be to wake up at 7 am, and turn on my computer. I may stare blankly at the screen and yawn — but it’s one step closer to my dreams than lying in bed with Instagram.
Starting over gets more and more difficult the longer you remain on the sidelines. That’s why you should never miss two workouts in a row. That’s why you need to make that call, or say Yes to that coffee invite. Today.
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Three weeks ago, I published my last article: another ~2,800-worder about Bitcoin, my latest obsession. It was as good as I could make it — mixing technical info with pics, charts and personal stories. I even tried to be funny.
Then I went on holiday to Japan. And came back to a crazy work week. I stopped writing and lost all my momentum.
It’s the longest break I’ve taken from writing in a long time. And I’ve procrastinated starting again by drowning myself in other distractions. I’ve avoided my work. I’m scared. 🙁
But today, I will face my fears. Today I will fight the doubts, insecurities and inertia that come every time you try something new. Today I will start over.
And hopefully you will too.
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