Start right now, ready or not

Do you ever find the universe keeps throwing the same message into your path?

Maybe it’s Big Magic at play, or something simpler relating to the way we notice things once they’re on our mind, but right now it feels like everyone I talk to is stalling at the idea of ‘readiness’.

The students on my course who desperately want to start a blog, but think they need to build their audience first.

The friend who’s ready to quit her day job, but wants more of her leads to be definite first.

Me, with the opportunity to write the fiction book that’s been bubbling in my head for years, suddenly realising I don’t know how to structure a novel.

The thing all of these scenarios and a great many more have in common is fear. It doesn’t feel like fear – in each case the stumbling block presents as a rational and logical quandary, but if we dig deep enough to the root of the issue, it’s that same old emotion behind it all.

Because, do you need a big audience to start a blog? Of course not – if that were true then none of us would ever have started, and bloggers would barely exist. But oh, it would be nice to do it that way, undoubtably – to put our heart and soul out there with no risk of rejection, of looking like we were trying too hard, or of feeling like we had failed. Given the choice, who wouldn’t want to blog to an established audience instead of into the abyss? Isn’t this just common sense?
Except. Except no matter how huge your audience on one platform, there’s never any guarantee of success on another. You might start your blog to a huge influx of readers from your Instagram, and then notice than none of them came back. You might find it harder to write than you’d expected, and struggle to post with so many eyes watching & waiting. You might still fail, because we’re human, and that happens sometimes, for infinite, unpredictable reasons.

When we delay taking an action we’ve identified for ourselves, it feels like we’re keeping ourselves safe. Our dreams get to stay clean and protected, safe in the possibility of ‘someday’ instead of the messy, gritty reality of ‘now’. But the problem is that clean and protected dreams only ever stay as that – dreams, not realities, not evolved into life-changes and adventures and steep learning curves. They’re like axolotls, kept in the dark and never allowed to mature and venture onto land.

My friend can’t make those leads any more concrete until she has the time away from her day job.

I won’t know how to write a novel until I sit down and do it, and wrestle with the results.

Recently I heard an interview with Mark Hamill (see, I can relate anything to him if I work hard enough!). In it he spoke about writing a preface for somebody’s book, and idly mentioned how he could write, ‘but could never be a writer’ because he couldn’t do it to a deadline.
Couldn’t write to a deadline? Whoever said that was an integral part of being a writer? A love of language, a story to share, sure – but timekeeping? That’s only needed in about 1% of the writing world. Even then there are those of us that push the boundaries a bit ;).

We tell ourselves these things because it lets us off the hook. When there’s something we think we could or should be doing, but it feels like too huge a step, it’s a relief to have an excuse not to take the leap.

‘I could’ve been a writer but I couldn’t work to deadlines’.

‘I could’ve been a blogger but I didn’t have an audience’.

In my experience, those callings don’t go away just because we squash them down under arbitrary limitations. We don’t stop wishing and wanting and wondering; it just starts to make us sad instead of giddy & excited.

Mark Hamill needs to write a freaking book – the man’s obsessed with alliteration and language and tells stories for an actual living already – and you, lovely reader, need to do whatever it is you’ve been saying you can’t. Because you’ll never be ready until you do, and you’ll never succeed unless you try. 

You can, you are, you will. So this is me giving you – and myself, and Mr H, should he ever stumble across this – permission to have a go.

What do you do when you feel like you’re not ready to take a leap? How do you move yourself forwards?

  • Thank you for this <3

  • Fi Cooper

    I’m doing what I do when I listen to BIg Magic (and thanks for the pointer to that by the way!) which is NODDING FURIOUSLY and AGREEING.

  • I love this so much! I wanted to go freelance for so long, and literally spent years doing odd freelance jobs while I was still working full time. I knew that, to go freelance full time, I’d need to dedicate more time to getting more clients and doing more work, but making that happen with a full time job proved difficult. Then, without any notice, I lost my job, and suddenly I had to make a decision: find another job or jump into freelance life feet first without any planning. Turns out, though, that I’d already laid the groundwork without even knowing it by dedicating so much of the last 5 years to blogging, growing my social channels, and doing odd writing/PR work on the side, because 4 months later I have no regrets about doing what scared me. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but I’m so glad I took the plunge πŸ™‚

  • Thank

  • This has literally been my mantra all year and it’s been amazing to just dive into things instead of seeing all the reasons why they may not work. Love this post. It’s always a great reminder to start with what you have, be it small or great. The fun begins after you start.

    afomaumesi.com

  • Paula Solar

    You need to write that book, Mark Hamill needs to write that book, and if there’s any chance you and Mark Hamill need to co-write a book, because YES. And perhaps write my name in the thank-you page? A woman can dream.

    I need to work harder in my studies and my photography, because that’s what makes me happy at the moment… after a couple of years not knowing what to do with myself. And I know I don’t have to be big or take huge steps or become the best ever in anything… but I have to find happiness and enjoyment in what I do, in the process and the result, but not in the impact on other people. Of course that’s important too, but not the main goal. Growing as a person is the main goal.

    This post was truly enlightening, and I can read between the lines that you’re already writing… if not the novel itself, at least drafts of what it will be. I can see in your writing that you are a writer.

    xxx

  • Hi Sara, I absolutely adored this post! So TRUE!
    I used to write a blog many moons ago, just for fun. I ALWAYS found something to say. Then life balanced out (& I no longer needed an online diary to feel content – which I now realise is exactly what it was for me) and took some U-turns, and then years later, three none-starter blogs later… I’m back to having a go!
    I love reading blogs, that has never waned, but the writing I now find so much harder if I’m honest. So many blogs are so amazing, like mini media enterprises being run solo and efficiently!
    I feel I can’t compare, so why try?
    However, I know if I ever truly find my flow again, I will reap benefits and enjoy the process…
    So my “rational” excuse, which is in fact fear of doing it all for nothing, and badly at that, is where is my flow? I keep thinking I’ll find it under some rock?
    This post is going to spur me on – not to worry about how good others are, or how crap I may be… but to just do it! Thank you!
    PS. Your novel… ever heard of NaNoWriMo??? I took part, and completed writing a 50k novel (a small one but a whole novel all the same) a couple of years ago – it’s a GREAT exercise to be part of!

  • I love this. I hear it often from new bloggers I’m mentoring too – I just want to create a few more blog posts and then I’ll be ready to launch. Why?! Just do it! And weirdly, I’ve been reading BrenΓ© Brown’s Daring Greatly and it comes down to the willingness to be vulnerable – which so many of us find really tough (including me).

    Fab post! Also – LOVE your new logo!

  • I absolutely love this! I think we are all guilty of making excuses for this or that. We forget to trust ourselves and be fearless. However, it can be seen as a good thing because it shows it matters, we know we really want to take that leap. Slowly taking small steps forward is a good place to start and one day you feel ready.

    Write the novel Sara, take it one day at a time. I’d love to read the book that has been bubbling in your head.

    Natasha x

  • This was really good for me to read. I’m usually great about pushing through resistance with a plan. But my most recent idea that hasn’t let go of me is to start a podcast. I’ve done the research, worked through a tutorial, picked out the music, created the art. Now I’m stalling with actually recording because I’m nervous. Being the more introverted writer type I’m most comfortable writing, creating art, shooting photos. Thinking about my voice, my words going out into the universe is–scary! I’ve bought the equipment though so I’m pushing through!

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  • Inna Turchyck

    Thank you, Sara, for this amazing post. Actually, I’m quite sure that this is Big Magic at work – tryly! I started listening to this podcast after your recommendation and I suddenly realized that all this years I was trying to get ready. I wanted to start my handmade business and first I started building audience on Instagram to have people who would possibly be my clients. But I have never started the craft business because I was always thinking ^ I’mnot ready ( my sewing skills are not enough, people would not buy it and so on). But actually your podcast and Big magic have me a big push and I started. I had a first sale without even trying to sell it. Now the process started and I want to say – your words matter. Keep writing and I can’t wait to read your fiction book!

  • Julia Williams

    Gosh. Reading this, felt like we were sitting having that coffee in Yorkshire together that is yet to be, and you were talking to me and only me. So much truth here and this completely resonates xxx

  • Thank you for reminding me of this Sara. It’s such an easy thing to do, and I think something everyone does often without realising it. We definitely need to remind ourselves of this from time to time, notice when we’re stopping ourselves doing something and then just go for it. It’s so hard to do, but if we don’t then we’ll regret not doing it. I was doing this before I set up my blog, saying to myself i had to learn about Google Analytics first and about blog design and all this stuff. In the end I just bit the bullet and set it up, and I’m learning along the way. Which is how I think most people do it anyway.

    Also, thanks for introducing me to the strange creature that is the Axolotl! And hope to hear more about that novel soon πŸ™‚

  • Lynn Hill

    I am a firm believer in the ‘Just do it’. Yet I am an expert in procrastinating. Your wonderful podcasts and the Instaretreat modules are certainly helping me get back on track.

  • Diana Maria

    This was such a heart-felt and honest read, I am so glad I’ve stumbled across your blog! I feel as though I really do make excuses for myself and that now is a better time than ever to just do what it is I’ve been longing to do for years. Thank you so much for the inspiring words. It’s a lot harder to do, but the inspiration helps so much to motivate me to get on with my dreams!

    Sending light & love your way,
    My Lovelier Days