Even though I adore beginnings – January, Monday, the first day of each month, the deliciousness of the first blank page of a brand new book to write – I find certain projects so daunting that I can’t make myself begin them at all.
I try to break them down into the smallest possible components so that I’ll be less paralyzed with dread and terror. I’ve been known to give myself credit for addressing a single envelope. I know that once I write the address on the envelope, I’m going to have enough momentum – oh, I hope! – to write the note to put in the envelope, and then walk the twenty steps from my front door to the mail box to post the envelope.
So I now have a new way of making myself launch inhibiting projects, a new way of conceiving of that all-important first step. If I can’t make myself do any part of project x quite yet, I put on my to-do list: “Face x.” That’s all. I don’t have to do it. I just have to face it.
What does facing it involve? Usually it involves dragging out whatever stuff, usually a pile of paper, is associated with this task. I hope that the dragging will be followed by looking: drag it out, then look at it. Usually it is, because a certain amount of looking is involved even in locating the stuff to be dragged, so my eyes are already warmed up. And once I look at it, that’s usually enough to break the ice frozen solid over the unfathomable depths of this project, or at least to make one first tiny, almost imperceptible, crack in the ice.
Okay. Now I’ve talked myself into facing a task I’ve been putting off for over a month. I don’t have to DO it, mind you. I just have to face it. So I’m going to go face it RIGHT NOW. And then, sixty seconds from now, how much better I’m going to feel!