By Leo Babauta
This week, as we get started with the Create Daily, I’d like you to have one focus: just start.
Why? Because the Create Daily habit doesn’t happen at all without starting. In fact, you could say starting is the only habit you’re forming this month.
We’ll go into other aspects of creating as we go through the month, but let’s not worry about any of that. Just start.
Why is starting writing (or other creating) more important than writing for a certain amount of time (say, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes)? Because it doesn’t matter how long you want to create, if you don’t start. Once you form the habit of starting writing, then you can increase the length. But in the beginning, you’re just trying to form the simple habit of: trigger-starting. That’s all.
So how do we do that?
It goes like this:
- Your trigger happens. This might be waking up, having coffee, doing yoga, whatever. Set your trigger. When it happens, be very conscious of doing the next step.
- You remember to do the habit. Once this becomes a real habit, you won’t need to remember. But in the beginning, you have to remember to do it. So set up reminders in any way you can (physical notes are best).
- Start creating. You’ll feel some resistance at first, but do everything you can to start. Make this your complete focus. It doesn’t matter how long you create, or how much or how well, or what the output is. Just start creating.
Of course, the 3rd step can be a challenge for many people, so let’s look at ways to overcome this challenge.
Tips on Getting Started
If you find it difficult to even start, here are some things that work for me:
- Close your browser & all other programs. Anything you don’t need to actually create. I just use a simple text editor for writing — don’t obsess over the perfect text editor or creating tool. Just open whatever you’re used to, or the simplest tool you have (for text editors, that’s Notepad or Wordpad on Windows, if I recall correctly, or TextEdit on the Mac).
- Turn off all notifications. Notifications on your computer and phone can be a distraction. Close them down, before your trigger happens if possible. Like the night before.
- Just the first words or movement. You don’t need to write the entire chapter or blog post, paint the entire painting, complete anything. Just focus on writing a few words, sketching the first line or two. Often once you get the first movement or words down, you can keep rolling.
- Think of how you’ll start, ahead of time. In writing, this is called pre-writing, but you can do it for any creative pursuit — simple think about what you want to create beforehand, at least a little bit, just so you have something to start writing when your trigger happens.
- Notice your resistance points. Sometimes you resist starting because it seems hard, or because you’re afraid of the result of the writing (looking dumb when you publish, etc.). Notice the things that cause your resistance, and then let them go. It’s not hard to start (what you do later might be hard, but you’re only trying to start). And you don’t need to publish this — you’re just starting to create, so whatever happens after that you can worry about later. So let go of those objections, and just start.
- Think of who you’re doing this for. If you’re creating to help someone, or help yourself, think of them when you start, and you’ll be pulled toward the creating process.
Just start — thatâ€™s all you have to do to be successful today. You donâ€™t have to create for a full 5-10 minutes. Just start. Once you get started, you might want to do more, and that’s OK, but it’s not a requirement.