I’ve gone seen a lot of Professional Creative Content Designers speak at conventions, private lectures, etc. Invariably someone gets up to the mic during the Q&A and says “You Do the Thing. I want to Do the Thing. I almost Did the Thing? How can I Do the Thing but actually finish it?” and the answer varies depending on who’s talking – but it’s a pretty vague question. It’s also a question I’ve been asked too, and in the context of a brief Q&A it’s really hard to give a decent soundbyte answer because the real answer is longer and more complicated than just “Show up and do the work.”
But show up and do the work. Believe in yourself, put forth the effort, yadda yadda yadda. That’s really the last step.
Look, what I’m saying is, Doing the Thing is hard. Really hard. Not impossible, though. What do I mean by Doing the Thing? I mean any creative endeavor: writing a novel; releasing a new podcast with your bff; designing and producing your own tabletop RPG; coding your own video game, and so on and so forth. Whatever it is you want to do, but are struggling with doing.
Here are some things that people don’t like to talk about when they talk about Doing the Thing:
1) Neurodivergent? Well your lousy brain is going to fight you every step of the way. You’re a badass, though, and you can handle it. You might need help – a therapist, meds, daily meditation, binaural noise, organizational apps, whatever it is. You gotta sort all that out yourself, though, I can’t tell you what will help get your shitbird brain in line. I took up daily meditation and use an old school wall calendar hung up in a place where I see it literally every day. Once you find your groove, you’ll kick so much ass. I know it.
2)Doing the Thing is going to cost some money. How much depends on what the Thing is, and how deeply you’re willing to invest in quality. BXP chose to pay for web hosting and to hire our graphic designer friend to make our logo and banner, as an immediate example. Lots of things can be done for free, but you often get what you pay for. If you need the partnership of any other creative, PAY THEM WHAT THEY ARE WORTH. It’s unethical to take advantage of other creatives when you’re Doing the Thing. Don’t do it. Don’t fucking do it. You might need help with this, too, and that’s okay. I’m the last person to ask for financial advice – so really this is just a note to be aware that nothing is truly free. Sure, I’d love it if we could all just make art without a cost but until we destroy capitalism that just ain’t the reality we live in.
3)Doing the Thing takes time. A lot of it. Years, maybe. You might have to stop and come back. You might have to go slowly because you’re fighting your asshole brain. There is no correct amount of time in which you must Do the Thing. (Note, though: if you’re working for someone else, meet your goddamn deadlines. Then there is a correct amount of time.)
3.5) Though there’s no correct amount of time… you do gotta, you know, do it. Do it when you hate it. Do it when you hate yourself. Do it when you feel like you can’t. Doesn’t have to be a lot, but do it. Even if you’re working two jobs or one really shitty one, and are always emotionally, mentally, or physically exhausted. Scrounge up what little energy you have to make a tiny bit of headway. Dig that hole with a teaspoon. When I feel this way, I do a lot of internal screaming. Sometimes external screaming. I remember that the writing I do is impermanent and can always be redone, so first drafts are allowed to be awful.
4) You’re going to need help. I keep saying this but it remains true. No person is an island. Help comes in many forms – maybe it’s a friend who supports you when you feel like you can’t accomplish anything; connections to help you find an agent or a publisher; someone to help with layout or editing; a person to hold you accountable; someone to help you finance your work, etc. You get it. Needing someone else isn’t a failing – it’s necessary for getting things done. You can’t do everything yourself. Anyone who says they can is either very exceptional, or lying to you.
Finding people to help can also be hard – but those people are out there. You’re not alone and you can Do the Thing.