Last year, I asked myself a question…
“What if, rather than putting all my focus into the ends of personal projects, I put my energy into starting instead?
You see, I’d realised I’d been self sabotaging for years.
I’d tell myself it wasn’t the right time, I didn’t have the right skills, someone could do it better, blah blah blah.
I’d put that many ideas in my to-do pile, it was always too difficult to pick one to focus on.
All these self-inflicted roadblocks were rooted in fear.
Fear of judgement, opinions, rejection. I was scared of being seen.
And so I stuck to what was comfortable – and felt really unfulfilled.
That real eureka moment for me came when Dave pushed me to do something with a collection of short stories I had squirrelled away on a hard drive.
I’d written them and I had no intention of sharing them with anyone.
I thought I could get Dave off my back and I could go back to hiding (I know him much better now and I’m very thankful for that push), and we had a day in the mess room playing around with paint and ink trying to make some fun illustrations for the stories. I’d not drawn in front of anyone since I was a kid.
I had fun because I wasn’t thinking about the output, I just enjoyed the moment.
I drew an onion that day that I liked. And so I went home and drew some more. Then I moved on to jumpers. And a bird. And some party hats.
They were shonky and weird and I felt proud of them. So rather than worrying about making a book, I just did the next thing in front of me.
Dimensions. Grids. Typesetting. More illustrations. Colours. Cover. More typesetting. Print quotes. Resizing. More typesetting. Printing. Launch event. Selling.
And then, all of a sudden, it was finished.
It wasn’t until I’d sold half the copies that it really sunk in that I’d published a book.
Because publishing a book was never the goal – crossing the next thing off the list was.
This experience taught me that in a world of toe-dippers, it’s fun to be a cannonballer.
To embrace the joy of diving right in and seeing what happens.
There will be failure and wins. Dead ends and interesting discoveries.
Giving yourself the permission to start is a wonderful gift.
And it’s funny – now I stopped focusing on finishing, I’ve found myself doing a lot more of it.