I was recently asked by a group of loyal blog-readers for some life advice. They think I write good and think good things.
And I don’t know why, but I immediately reacted by turning into a Southern farmhand after a long day in the hot sun: Aw shucks, Daisy May! That’s mighty nice of you to say, but I’m not some big city-slicker, and I don’t really have much advice to offer. Then I returned to the field to tend to the cows.
But then I started thinking about it and, sure, here is my attempt to give some advice. And my advice can really be boiled down into two words:
When I have an idea – whether it’s a blog post, a vlog, whatever – I try to get it out there as quickly as I can. I’ve learned that the time I waste rolling an idea around in my head – imagining what-ifs, coming up with perfect reasons why and then perfect reasons why not – is counterproductive. So when I write, or create something, or make an important life decision, I don’t know exactly where it’s all going. I just start with one thing that feels right and I keep following right-feeling things and it usually turns out OK.
But a lot of times, when you try to do something for the first time, you start to think bad thoughts:
I don’t have the time or resources to do this right.
It’s very hard and I will suck at it.
I’ll get to it later.
I must be perfect at this thing — and then, and only then, can I pursue it.
The longer you wait, the more you convince yourself of how perfectly that idea could be executed.
This is called brain crack, as my friend Ze Frank says. Brain crack is bad, if it sits around in your head. You become addicted to the idea of ideas. You start to think about how good the idea will be, as opposed to thinking about how you’re actually going to get the idea into something tangible.
But no matter how much you plan, you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed that the first time you do something, it won’t be very good. But someone who does something bad three times still has three times the experience.
So yeah – if you want to write, or make movies, or change careers, or do whatever, the best thing to do is…try. Even if it’s not fully fleshed out. Even if it really stinks at first. Even if you don’t get the recognition you want. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I mean, it’s good to plan. But if you’re passionate about something, you should just, like, do it.
By the way, I’m not particularly good at following this advice. But I think I’m getting better at it.