I used to be the kind of person who wouldn’t start until I had everything prepared — until everything was right and perfect.
I couldn’t start a new journaling habit, I had to buy a journal first. I couldn’t start tracking my habits on a random piece of paper, I needed a calendar.
In other words, I was the kind of person who always found an excuse not to start.
New materials does not mean more work
I get it. When you want to start doing something new, or you want to start fresh, you want new supplies or apps to do it.
I bet there are writers out there who’ve said they won’t start writing until they’ve bought Scrivener or new pens. I know there are artists who say they won’t start painting until they get professional materials or expensive sketchbooks.
It’s alluring. It’s like going back to school after summer vacation. You can’t possibly use the same markers, pencils, or backpack as you did last year. You need new ones to go with the new school year.
“Duh.” — Billie Eilish
I don’t know why we do this. What I do know is that you don’t actually need new things to start. Just something is new doesn’t mean you’re more likely to use it.
You just need to start
Earlier this year, when I first wanted to start a journaling habit, I waited until I could buy a new one.
I thought having a new journal would help me cultivate the habit, but all it did was subtract $5 from my bank account. The old journal would’ve been just fine.
You don’t need a new app, different materials, or more of anything to start. You need to start with what you have now, and you need to start as soon as possible.
If you’re waiting to start a blog until you get a new laptop, if you’re waiting to start writing a book until you get your own Freewrite, or if you’re waiting to become a photographer once you can afford a professional camera, stop.
When you wait, you waste time.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. —Arthur Ashe
You can start right now — all thanks to the small device that fits in your pocket. You can start writing a book, take pictures, and blog on Medium on your phone.
You think new materials will help you start but they won’t
I wasn’t writing fiction for a while, and when I ordered a Freewrite, I said I would start again when it arrived. A week later, the Freewrite arrived, and can you guess what I didn’t feel like doing?
Ding. Ding. Ding.
I didn’t feel like writing fiction. I remember thinking how dumb I was to think a new thing would make me want to write.
(I did write that day, by the way, but not because of the Freewrite. Because I forced myself to.)
That point is there’s never a point in waiting. I can assure you that when you finally get the thing you’ve been waiting for, you’re most likely not going to start.
Waiting for something — materials, specifically — to begin is an excuse.
Your fears are holding you back and saying you have to wait until everything’s perfect to start.
Excuses are a subtler form of fear, but they’re manipulative and easy to give in to. You have to learn to stop caving into them by saying, “No.” You have to do the complete opposite of what the excuse is telling you to do, no matter how frightened you are.
You can’t keep waiting to have what you think.
“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth… not going all the way, and not starting.” —Buddha
You don’t need a new car, a better home, a faster laptop, more expensive sketchbooks, or any type of material.
It’s not the things you have that make you want to start, it’s the fire within you. Let that flame burn away the excuses and fear.
So, no matter what you want to start doing, do it now with what you have.
If you don’t start now, you never will.