How to start
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
When we sit down to write, paint, plan business, organize life, write a song or anything that requires creativity, we go through dark places. Dark places of the mind in which we don’t know for sure where or what is the next move.
We tend to confuse these dark places with walls. Dark places are walkable, you can use a lamp or touch and find your way through.
Walls are different. I hate it when someone says: “I’ve just hit a wall”. It is not like that.
Dark places are not walls.
They are just dark and definitely scary but they are totally navigable. Sometimes it seems as if there is no way out of whatever problem we’re in, but just by pushing through long enough, the dark place will light up and eventually we’ll find the way.
The hardest part of being a writer is not the writing itself, but sitting down to write.
I happen to be an entrepreneur as well and I can definitely tell you that the act itself, is the same. Sitting down to think about numbers and possibilities. Facing the nightmarish fact that maybe the business you are planning is not business after all. Facing it, however, lights the way for other possibilities.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
― Marcus Aurelius
There are times in life when I, and I can imagine yourself as well, hit “walls” within our creativeness.
Imagine yourself in a similar situation. These situations can be trivial, like sitting down to write the supermarket list (confess it, we always go with no idea of what we need) or big and serious, like sitting down to plan our lives for the next 5 years.
When was the last time you sat down with a pencil and a piece of paper to think about what you want to do for the next 5 or 10 years? Never?
The act of sitting down and figuring out what is needed is scary because we are entering a dark place, at least a dark place in our mind. The thing is, that the answers are there, in the dark places. Creativity is not even an act of creation, it is an act of discovery.
Creativity is not even an act of creation, it is an act of discovery.
When people talk about purpose in a serious manner. A deep feeling penetrates inside. At least I felt that way when my girlfriend or my family asked me “what do I want to do with my life”.
This was not easy to answer and to this day, it hasn’t become easier.
It’s a matter of discovery, it is not a static answer that stays the same as you grow older (I hate to even have to answer). It does not come and present itself either. You have to look for it, in the dark places of your mind. You have to start somewhere, anywhere.
It all begins with intention. From writing the list for the supermarket to figuring out what you want to do with your life for the next 5 years. It all begins with the simple act of sitting down with a pencil and a piece of paper and the intention to discover it.
It’s hard to believe that the hardest part is starting. Intuitively, we don’t believe it. We start thinking about all the work ahead, all the trouble will stumble upon and soon whatever endeavor we are in begins to present itself as a big and scary mountain.
Where do I start?
That is always the question. The answer is, anywhere. Anywhere is good, because the act of creation is not an act of creation, but of discovery.
Once you start thinking about creative endeavors as discovery endeavors, all will change. The answers and solutions are already there. They may be in your head, in a book or somewhere on the internet but they are already there, you just have to figure your way into them.
When I sit down to write. In the beginning, I don’t know where to begin. The easy way to write something is to grab the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, but there are times that I force myself to think my way into something, and those are the times when the best material comes out. Trust yourself to find your own answers. They are already there.
Courage, of course, to be yourself, is needed.
For that, I’ll finish with the great Roosevelt.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Stoic answers aim is to provide answers to the deepest human questions, which sadly, are almost always never asked.
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