Not tomorrow. Not next Year. Starting is failing, is learning, is growing.
I sat before my monitor six months. I didn’t create anything during that time. My eyes were bloodshot. I’d spend all day doing research. I had piles of notes. Some days I’d listen to a podcast in my ears, taking notes on that, while taking separate notes off the information on my screen (don’t do this). I analyzed, scrutinized, formalized, and systematized, but I forgot one thing.
I didn’t start.
The research is easy. The analysis is the fun part. When I plan I feel like I’m doing something. I’m not wasting my time, shit. Look at all these notes! I’ve got file folders and phone folders. I’ve got more content running through my body than the president has lawsuits.
…but I didn’t start.
As creators, the research part should be one of the smallest parts. As I type those words it makes the analytical part of me want to scream, but it’s true. Analysis is so easy to overdo. There’s always another variable to check. Another rock to lift, and more breadcrumbs to chase.
The problem with research is, by its nature, all research occurs in the past. And most of the research we do happened to someone else, in a different situation than ours, at a different time, with a different tribe.
Starting changes everything.
Once I committed to starting, I changed my inner-narrative. I was no longer a wisher, hope-er, or dreamer. I wasn’t an analyzer. I wasn’t a researcher. I was a do-er. I can’t be a creator without starting. If there’s no do-ing there’s only planning. And I can plan myself all the way to the grave, with nothing to show for it.
When we start we give ourselves permission to fail.
Failing is the only way we learn. Failing’s the only way we grow and improve. I have this battle with my son, daily. He’s got my genes. I want to be great at something on the first try, or I want to give up. If we’re great on the first try we’re not really trying.
Creators start fast, so they can fail fast.
We learn everything about our product through failure. The research gets us the tools, the luggage, and the starting block. But once the gun goes off, we’ve got to do.
I’m a writer and creator. My calling is to help other indie creators get what they want, using the tools of my writing and teaching. If I spend all my time buried in the research I’m actually harming the people I serve. If I’m not do-ing, I’m not helping. It’s easy to scroll, listen, click, and takes copious notes. Notes aren’t starting. Notes are getting ready to start.
If I want to serve my tribe I’ve got to fail — for them — and fail a shit-load.
We all have permission to fail once per mistake. It’s the person who fails twice that’s foolish. One-off mistakes are the process. There is no other way. We didn’t get the light bulb because Edison buried himself in analysis. We didn’t get Micheal Jordan because he really enjoyed reading about basketball. We didn’t get Lincoln or Dr. King because those guys enjoyed hiding in the library. They started. They failed — a lot. They learned. And they got back to work.
Starting = failing.
We’re in this failure-porn culture where we like to analyze how people fall from grace. We watch the top-ten worst car accidents on YouTube, or click on the humiliating stories of founders who bombed. There isn’t enough failing as the process. We’ve become failure-adverse. When we’re failure-adverse we over-research because it feels like work.
Starting and failing are synonymous. Failing is the process. We learn to walk by falling. We learn to draw by scribbling. We learn to code by making mistakes. We learn to speak before crowds by throwing-up backstage. We learn to build things by watching our first attempts fall-apart with their first use.
I was so arrogant for thinking I could out-research my own failures.
I didn’t start. All I had to do was start. Starting is failing, is teaching, is learning. I understand now. I limit my research time. I start faster, so I can welcome the failures. This is how I’ll learn faster. Not by learning more, but by doing, now.
We’re waiting for you.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.