Start With The Interesting Part

"Golfland start" by twid is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Many people struggle to even start doing the things they tell themselves they want to be doing. You say you want to write, exercise, or learn to code but you never actually get around to doing it. Or you give it a try only on the rare occasion when you get a perfect alignment of motivation and free time to work at it once every few months.

There are many different ways to approach this problem, but today I'm going to focus in on what I believe is the most important piece to get yourself going at the very start.

You need to start with the most interesting part first.

It's hard to get even get started when all you have a mountain of drudgery ahead of yourself. So instead of starting at the beginning, write the scene of your novel that you're most excited about first. If you can't get yourself to exercise don't waste hours researching workout plans that you never follow. Say you enjoyed playing soccer when you were younger, go down to the local field and start shooting goals, or even better join an adult recreation soccer team. If you want to start a podcast pull out your phone and hit record while you talk about whatever has you most excited right now.

Of course you can't only ever do the interesting stuff if you're looking to produce some final product. But you can always begin working with the most interesting part of what is in front of you. Once you get started it's very easy to keep that momentum going, even when you need to start working on the less interesting parts. Starting with the interesting part is all about getting your momentum going.

Newton's 1st law of motion applies to your creativity and work just as much as physical matter. Once you're in motion you tend to stay in motion. So the most important part is just getting yourself started. And why not make it easy on yourself by starting with the most interesting part?

Hemingway's Trick: Manufacturing Interesting Places to Start

As you are able to start making progress you will probably begin to run out of the interesting things that you were initially able to use to get yourself going. At this point you are ready to start manufacturing interesting starting places for your future self. This is something Ernest Hemingway would famously do while writing. Hemingway would stop each of his writing sessions mid sentence, leaving it unfinished until he began writing again the next day. This was so he had an easy place to start. A simple trick to make it easy to get started again. Because the hardest part is always getting yourself started.

How can you manufacture interesting places to start in areas other than writing? If you're coding an app, end the day just a line or two of code away from being finished. If you're trying to cook more often but hate having to get all the ingredients together and pots and pans out before you can get started, get everything you need for tomorrow's meal ready when you're done cooking for today. So tomorrow you can just start with the part you actually enjoy: cooking the meal.

Take advantage of the momentum you have today by setting yourself up to easily start again tomorrow.