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Many years ago, during a swimming lesson for one of our daughters, I watched each separate class in their designated area of the pool.
In the shallow end, the littlest swimmers were learning to put their faces in the water. Some caught on right away, dunking under and springing up, while others barely got their noses wet before they surfaced, spluttering and gasping for air.
Down at the deepest end, the most experienced students were pushing off to do their laps, gliding through the water almost effortlessly as their athletic arms sliced through the surface and their pumping legs propelled them forward.
In the middle section of the pool, several classes were going through their lessons. The teacher would instruct from the edge of the pool while the class held on to the rim and listened. At Go! the swimmers would take off en masse, flailing and splashing in a swarm of pandemonium and body parts.
Except for one class.
Over there, the teacher would likewise instruct from the edge of the pool. But then, his swimmers would push off in turn and continue in an orderly fashion to the other side of the pool and back, as each of them practiced the stroke of the moment.
At the end of class time, I commended the instructor on his extremely orderly class.
"I've discovered," he replied, "that there is a world of difference between the words GO and BEGIN. Go implies a race. Begin gives you time to breathe."
I have thought back on that moment so often. It was like a dozen bells went off in my head.
The world in which we live is a Go! Go! Go! kind of place. Not everything is a race, but it certainly feels that way. If we're not being cajoled into purchasing the latest doodad to keep up with technology lest we be left in the dust, then we're being enticed to engage in this one little thing to lose thirty pounds by Thursday.
Even our writing lives are not exempt from provocation. Buy this course! Build your platform! Find your followers! Sell more stories! Go! Go! Go!
I find it all quite paralyzing.
BEGIN is friendly. It breathes. It lets me think and gives me permission to take my time. BEGIN makes a deadline more neighbourly.
Not everybody can GO, but anybody can BEGIN.
That tiny conversation with the swimming instructor completely changed my perspective. Now, anytime I'm feeling paralyzed in my writing I remember to just begin. And everything gets better from there. Maybe this one little word change will help you along in your journey too.