Pieces of Me

What stops us from starting?

Late last year an email landed in my inbox. It was an opportunity to apply for an upcoming reality television show. The idea of the show was to set a goal and challenge yourself to complete the goal in one year.

I didn’t think much of it when I first read the email. But something took over me the day applications closed and I frantically wrote up and submitted my application moments before deadline.

Why would I even entertain the thought of a reality television show? My goal would have been to write a novel within one year. I thought the platform of the show would have been an amazing opportunity and the biggest kick start I could give myself to start, and finish, my novel.

It was months after applications closed that I heard back from the television studio and I was in! Well not exactly, I made it through to the interview stage and in the next moment I found myself chatting and being interviewed by producers.

My mind went into overdrive playing out the scenarios. Spending the next year writing furiously away at the novel, all the while television crews lingered in the background. I’d have to get some new clothes to wear, and maybe put my lashes back on, and clean up the back yard and make sure there were fresh flowers in the house when the crew did come – like I said my mind went into overdrive.

But as it turned out, I did not make the final cut for the cast. A writer did not fit into the mix of the people and goals they had selected. Strangely I was not disappointed. There were no epic melt downs or feelings of missing out.

The whole experience from submitting the application through to the final phone call felt surreal, a parallel universe that would disappear in a puff of dust if I were to touch it. Yet there was one very real constant throughout. The one lingering question, that perhaps had always existed, but the reality television show brought hard and fast to the surface.

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What stops us from starting? In my case, what has stopped me all these years from actually sitting down and starting to write my novel?

It is not a lack of ideas, it is not a lack of ability and it certainly is not a lack of passion to start. Is it a fear of starting? A fear of failure? A fear of disappointment? A fear of criticism?

It certainly is not a fear of hard work. I have proven that to myself over and over again in life. But there is and there continues to be something holding me back.

A hesitation to start is something many of us face. Hesitating to start a new diet? Apply for a new job? Change careers? Leave a relationship? Start exercising? The list is endless and the question different for all of us. So what stops us from starting?

I was sitting in the pews of an old chapel last year, at a funeral, when I started to think about regrets. It is almost a throwaway line for me to say I have no regrets. I don’t. But in that cold quiet chapel, I realised that if it were me lying there, friends and family gathered to mourn my passing I would have one regret. I would regret not writing my novels.

I wish I could write the next paragraph in the context that I have overcome all of my hesitation and five chapters of my novel are penned down and I am furiously writing more. But that is not the case. The characters, the scenes, the dialogue all continue to dance in my head. The hesitation and fear more so my reality than any words on paper.

I had every expectation to not only start, but finish my novel, had I been selected for the television show. I know that in all the complexity I am twisting around this question, the answer is as simple as just start. Screaming at me JUST START. So why don’t I? Why don’t any of us?

What has stopped you from starting?

Linking up with #IBOT
Catch up on my last blog post Shifting Water



  • I think what stops me from starting is fear I won’t be good enough (a novel is also on my list) and the more pressing daily minutiae that seems to gobble up all time.

  • Writing a book is also a goal of mine, but right now I know I can’t give it the attention it would deserve as day day life with three young children takes up all of my time. I have accepted that and hope one day I will give myself the opportunity. For now, I enjoy writing my blog and love spending time with my family xx

  • Ahh yes. I totally get this. I have two things that I want to ‘start’. One of them I am just about to and the other keeps getting put off. The first is taking me a lot of courage and I think the thing holding me back from the second is fear and time also. Ahh it’s hard isn’t it? How exciting about the reality TV show and brave of you too. I don’t think I could audition for it. Anyway, I have no doubt you will start, Josefa. There’s plenty of time. There’s no rush. You’ll get there. xx

  • It’s always fear that stops us. Always. It’s just a matter of identifying what we are afraid of- that’s where it gets hard xx

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    Fear or hope – the two ways most people live. Fear is easier to live by because it is the safest. Get that pen out and cut the fear loose.

  • An excellent question! I have a massive business to get underway, and I am not really sure why I am not just starting, fear maybe? Time to trust, and just start! xx

  • I think it’s different for everybody but I think it’s mainly self-doubt masked as fear. There’s no way to overcome it other than just to start, and even then it needs constant management. Good luck Josefa, I for one would love to read anything you write. x

  • Fear is the big thing that stops me from starting. The thing is Josefa, when you’re writing a book, at first it’s all for you. Don’t think about the people who might read it or the publishing angle or any of that — just write it. You have nothing to be afraid of when you write for yourself.

  • I SO get this. I almost applied for something called This Time Next Year (or something) and my entry was going to be about the fact I needed to lose weight. I hoped they’d ‘help’ me do it sensibly (I’m about 6-70kg overweight) and not Biggest Loser style.

    I filled in the application form but stalled at having to make a video. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to expose myself to that kind of attention even though I was BEYOND desperate for any help I could get to lose weight!

    It’s something I’ve done in the past (lost weight) but for some reason this time around I’m flummoxed!

  • What stops me from starting … getting into exercise and walking again. Where do I begin?! Oh, Easter is coming up. Oh wait, we have house guest that will be staying for 2 weeks so I won’t be able to do it then. Or the day I actually got on the treadmill only to discover the hubster had “modified” it somehow and it is no longer working … what the. I will get there but in the meantime grrrrr!

    Visiting from #teamIBOT x

  • Betty

    I wish I knew the answer to that one. I always say it’s too so with time. Not the right time, not enough time, will take too much time.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one like this!

  • You’re a great writer so I can’t wait for you to start, and finish! I think the things that mean the most to us are the hardest to start (and sometimes the things that mean the least too eg housework). So the level of your fear/hesitation/procrastination probably relates to the level of your passion. Meantime we get muddled in the middle and blame busyness.

  • Sarah @sarahdipityblog

    Oh gosh I could’ve written this! I think if we’re honest it probably comes down to fear; fear we won’t be able to do it, fear it won’t be any good….but of course our greatest fear should really be living with the regret of not doing it at all. I think there is always so many other things in our daily lives that compete for our attention that it’s sometimes hard to prioritise such a big task. But I guess we just have to start somewhere….

  • Like Sarah I could have written this. For me partly it is fear of failure but also success and there is the flip side which is what is the point! What happens if I write my novel and no-one reads it … it is hard enough writing a blog and the stupid stats yell at me stupid failure every time I login to write a new post or look at my fb page and my page likes etc … But for now my focus has to be on getting well and then worrying about the books (because there are more than one!) that I want to write … I am so glad I checked into #ibot today I had not come across you before and I am super excited to explore more of your writing!

  • Oh yes, I totally get this. I think for me, it’s often fear of failure. I like to do well at whatever I do and the idea of not doing well is scary. not meeting my own expectations. You would think after jumping in head first to study for my Diploma, and then not only reaching but exceeding my goals of graduating top of the class, that I would use that to get me to start other things. But no. I’m still sitting here struggling with all of the other things I want to start and just not doing it.

  • Totally agree with this…like a few others have said, it’s a fear of failure/being not-good-enough for me. I completed a course in Magazine writing from AWC in 2014. Then I got carried away and did a grad dip at uni in creative writing, did the advanced mag writing course and also a copywriting course. What have I done with all of this? Just pitched and written 1 article. That was back in 2014. I realised I was using study as a way to avoid actually writing. Pitching scares me, failing scares me. But I know I have to suck it up and get started.

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