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  • Marisa Wolf

When it's so hard to get started

Josey, a black lab mutt, curled up in a gray blanket, staring into the abyss

The last few weeks (cough months maybe year cough) have been a mishmash of intense productivity, fun adventures, absolute laziness, and staring into the abyss while accomplishing nothing else.


Does this happen to you, too? You have all the best plans - an aggressive calendar, some clear goals, an idea, a checklist, whatever - and then the world just...happens? Whether it's the absolute wildness of...everything...


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...or something getting rescheduled and then the whole day gets skewed?


It's not just me, right? Honestly, some of this is how I've always lived my life - it's a skill, the amount of stuff I can get done at the last minute of a deadline. But my extremes feel a little more...extreme these days.


One day last week I wrote 5,000 words! Another day I wrote...zero. I keep telling my brain you can't write a novel at the last minute, but it feels like there's some part of me that is yelling "challenge accepted!" and refusing to settle in and get to work.


Over and over, I'll procrastinate during the day, endlessly scrolling through various social media feeds, getting caught up in all the everything happening, and then eventually I'll sit down to start writing, dreading it...and then words happen. And then words keep happening.


Once I get started, almost every time, I get a bunch done, and it's fun, not difficult like I was telling myself it would be...but whew, that forcing myself to sit down and get started is a beast.


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As a grown woman, I have of course tried:

  • just telling myself to get started!

  • self-bribery!

  • prizes!

  • threats!

  • detailed schedules!

  • vague schedules with clear goals!

  • accountability partners!

And sometimes those work. And sometimes they don't. What I have finally realized, literal decades into this life with myself, is it's ok if something doesn't work. It's ok to try the next thing to meet my own bananas-ness where ever it is at the moment.


It's ok to be kind to myself, the way I (almost) always work to be to others. Right now I'm giving myself a little bit of room to run around outside or read (we won't talk about how I just took 10 ebooks out of the library while not at all having time to read 10 ebooks from the library). Then I have to write - no word goal, just get started. 20 words. 50. 125.


Because once I'm started, that 125 can easily go to 300, which is basically 500, and ohhh now I might as well go to 1000. That's how I got up to 2500 last night in about 2 hours. Cheering myself on, daring myself to go a little further.


It's not perfect, it's not the 5k I originally planned to write, but some progress is better than no progress. And the kinder I am to myself, the more likely it is I'll settle in a little easier to get started the next day.

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It'll work til it doesn't, and then instead of trying to shame myself, I'll try something else. I can't bully myself into action (shockingly, I am very contrary when bossed around, even when it's self-bossing. Especially?). Giving myself grace and then getting started even if I don't want to is the best I can do right now.


Maybe it's the best I can do at any time. I hope where ever you are in the wild-times spectrum, you're able to do the same. Give yourself grace. Be kind. Do what has to be done, no matter how small the first step.


We got this.


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