Just Start. Really.

Begin Now

I’m not saying anything new here, but I heard so many thoughts around New Year’s that basically said, “I want to do [xyz] but I need to find the time/but my special circumstances make it challenging/but I don’t have what I need.” No. No, this isn’t true. If you want to do whatever it is, you will find the time. You will adjust to your circumstances instead of waiting and waiting for your circumstances to change. You will make do with the minimum amount of whatever supply you think you need to get going. If you don’t, of course, it is easy to say it’s not your fault, it’s the fault of your busy life or your circumstances (which aren’t unique, no matter what you think) or the budget that won’t allow you to buy the exact drawing pens and paper you’re sure you need to express yourself. But the truth is, if you don’t, it’s because you don’t want it enough.

Do you want to write? Get paper and a pencil and get going. You don’t need a screen and a keyboard or a special app or program. You don’t need a fancy notebook or the perfect pen or even a new pen. You don’t need a quiet room of your own and three hours per day. You can do it while the kids interrupt you (ask me how I know). You can do it in waiting rooms with background noise. You can do it ten minutes at a time. You can even do it while monitoring homework or cooking dinner or in your head while driving carpool.

Do you want to draw? Grab some paper and a pencil and get going. (Do you sense a theme?) You don’t need the perfect sketchbook. You need paper, a pencil, and your eyes. That just-right sketchbook you saw at that store you can’t get back to for two weeks plus you need to wait for a coupon…that sketchbook isn’t going to make you draw any better. Do you know what makes you draw better? Practice. You can draw on the backs of receipts while waiting in the school car pick-up line. That’s a pretty boring place to be, in my experience. Look out the car window. See that tree? Draw it. Draw your own hand—it’s fantastic drawing practice. Make a habit of bringing some paper with you wherever you go. If you choose to spend that boring pick-up line time browsing the Internet on your phone, that’s a choice that you’ve made. That’s fine, but own the choice.

“I’d love to knit, but I don’t have the time.” Is there a knitter who hasn’t heard some variation of this comment? People who knit (or sew, or embroider, whatever) don’t have any more time than the rest of the population. These handcrafts are incredibly forgiving of schedules. They are agreeable, for the most part, to being picked up and put down in the middle of things. Knitting is practically made for mothers. It fits into the cracks of the day.

Almost everything I do fits into the cracks of my day. In late December I attended a Home for the Holidays Etsy gathering in Providence. I didn’t talk to everyone there, but for everyone I did talk to, their craft business was their full-time job. I can’t do that right now. My making has to fit in around homeschooling two children and mothering three. We have what seems to be a higher-than-average number of medical appointments. My husband travels a lot. I’m unable to run at the moment, but when I could and when I can again, it’s also a priority in my day. I juggle all these things and more. I could decide it’s not worth doing anything at all if I can’t make selling my work a full-time job right now. I don’t have a room of my own, control over much of my schedule, a studio with natural light, a dedicated sewing table, an advertising budget, or the DSLR that would make all my photographs perfect, I’m sure of it. (Wouldn’t it?) Someday I may have all of those things, but in the meantime, I want to make things and try to sell them, so I fit it into the cracks.

Forget all the excuses. If you want it, you’ll do it. If you want to write, you’ll write. If you want to create, you will. You’ll find a way. If you don’t find a way, that’s telling you something. It’s really, truly as simple as that. If what you actually do isn’t matching the story of yourself in your head, you have to do some hard work. You either need to actually do what you say you want to do, or you need to adjust the story to reflect the fact that you are not a person who truly plans to do these things. You’re not a writer-who-wants-to-write-but-can’t. You’re not someone-who-would-draw-if-only. You are you, spending your time on whatever it is you are spending your time on. It’s hard changing these stories; it makes us feel bad. If you don’t want to change the story, change what you do. Write. Draw. Create. Exercise. Read more. Do whatever it is you say you want to do, with no excuses or rationalizations. I trust that you can. I really, really believe that you can—if you want to.

24 thoughts on “Just Start. Really.

  1. Victoria

    Yes, I agree. This ties in somewhat with my pet peeve: people who are constantly complaining about how busy they are. We are all busy! If you feel so busy that you can’t fit in whatever you feel is missing in your life, you need to scrutinize how you are using your time, and figure out a way to use it better. It’s not easy, but it is possible. I’m busy to, so stop complaining to me unless you are a famous, highly in-demand brain surgeon or the president. Those people are off the hook.

    1. amy Post author

      Yup. I kind of don’t know what to say to people who admire my sweater and then follow it up with “I wish I knew how/had time to do that.” I didn’t knit the sweater by wishing it, duh. 🙂

  2. karen

    I agree! As an avid knitter I’ve heard it all, not enough time, not patient etc….If you really want to do something just start just do it!

    Loved your post and I feel like starting something now 🙂

      1. Dawn Suzette

        Oh, yeah. I get that! I could not do it in NS because I did not want to wake everyone up starting a fire in the wood stove at 4 or 5 in the morning. That would kinda defeat the whole purpose! 😉

  3. Kirsten

    Love this, Amy. I love the bit about become that story you’re always telling about yourself, or change that story. Powerful message.

    1. amy Post author

      It’s always disconcerting to me when the story and the person are a mismatch. I am very very slowly reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (recommended by Lori; it’s my Kindle App book for when I’m stuck waiting somewhere unexpectedly) and it is all about the stories of our lives. It’s really good food for thought.

      1. Dawn Suzette

        I read that book, on Lori’s recommendation, over the holiday. I have been meaning to talk about I on the blog but waiting until I finished the other book I am reading so I can share both.
        I thought it was a really great book and I loved the concept of life as a story & how he changed his. It really has shaped the way I jumped into this new year.

  4. Karen

    Own the choice. That’s a useful concept in a lot of ways.
    I’ve barely made art in two months and I’m okay with that, because I’m recognizing and owning the way I’m choosing to spend my time. I’m not wringing my hands and gnashing my teeth because I’m “too busy to make art”. I’m not. I’m just choosing to use my time in other ways right now. I can get all up in my head wondering WHY I’m choosing to use my time this way instead of using it to make art, but even that is counterproductive right now. I’m trusting that I’m doing what I need to be doing right now (whether that’s a Parks and Recreation marathon, or a stupid phone game, or getting lost in a book) and not getting upset with myself for wasting time that I “should” be spending on art. I realize this sounds silly coming after a post about how to make more time for creativity in your life, but it comes from a place of agreement with you. There IS time if you want there to be time. And being aware of what time is available to you throughout your day and recognizing how you choose to use it is important to your well being.

    1. amy Post author

      Oh, I agree with you. There are days I realize I’m spending too much time on the computer, but on the other hand, I get some valuable support online that I don’t get much anywhere else. And I also think–and this is more specific to what you’re describing going on with you–that creative people need restful times, when we’re not actively creating (or not creating much), kind of like a field rotation. And I really don’t know that I could ever call getting lost in a book wasted time anyway. 😉

  5. Lisa Hassan Scott

    Thank you Amy. One thing I’d say from my own experience is that when I stopped making excuses and began to see that everything is a choice, I began to feel like the master of my own destiny! So, ok, I’m not doing x, but that’s because I’m *choosing* to do y. And I’m happy with that. Wouldn’t it be nice to do it all, but I accept what is possible within the time and resources I have, and I am happy with what I am choosing to prioritise. No excuses and no regrets.

    1. amy Post author

      Yes. We should feel like that! Personally I always thought “doing it all” sounded exhausting 🙂 so it’s so important to know what we really want to spend our time on. Thanks so much for adding your voice here, Lisa!

  6. Michelle

    I have a rant that ties in, but it’s about owning up and being honest with yourself. It’s OK to say you don’t want to write right now. Own it. I didn’t want to last month, so I didn’t. That freed me up to do other things I did want to do, like sewing. Whining about wanting to but not having the time to write would have been unproductive and dishonest. We can’t do everything, so be honest about what you do and do not want to do, and put your energy where you need and want to put it.

    1. amy Post author

      YES. Owning our choices is a huge part of it. I usually *am* browsing the Internet (hi, Twitter!) on my phone while sitting in the car pick-up line…which I only do once a week, typically. The thing that I feel is important is to be *aware* of how I’m choosing to spend my time, and if I’m not doing something I say I want to do, why is that? By this point I can recognize my own avoidance strategies and I know whether I should let it ride (ie, I need the downtime and the eventual work I produce will be better for it) or force my way through it, if I’m avoiding due to fear or anxiety. If we’re just making excuses, we’re never going to figure these things out.

  7. moongirl

    Ahhh! Yes and yes and hear hear! That is totally me: every excuse and every way to fit it in amidst the home school, job and all that goes along with all of that. Plus, the job not being the art. That will come.

    You have many wonderful words of wisdom! A good kick in the ass for those times I am feeling frustrated and exhausted. If your soul gets hungry enough from lack of what feeds it, you will find a way.


  8. RoseRed

    Yes to all of this! Mostly I say to myself, “I don’t make time to do x”. Sometimes I regret that, but I can only blame myself!

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