Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When you ain't gots the skillz

So all the time I have these ideas in my head that are way beyond what I'm actually capable of doing. Ideas for projects like with drawing and illustrating and photography and video making and cooking and all these other things I want to do.

It happens with writing too, where I get an idea and feel like its too big for me. I think everyone probably gets that way when they're first starting out doing anything, but we pick the thing we're going to work at and try and improve, and our thing is writing. But I'm talking beyond that, or in addition to or in collaboration with writing. When we want to do a project that requires additional skills that we haven't been working on and training for like we have with writing. Art, videos, music, like I said. Many of the projects I want to do are an expansion of and supplement for writing, like making video poems or illustrating your own children's books. Those require writing skills plus cinematography, video editing and illustrating skills. Which I don't have.

So...what do you do?

1. Drop it. I don't mean this as a bad thing. Sometimes it really is just best to focus our efforts and attention on something else, something more worth while. Prioritize. For example, I would love to write songs, make a cookbook for writers, and videos for YouTube. Eventually I hope to be able to do all three (and lots of others), but for now I simply can't. It's just not possible time-wise, not even taking into account my complete lack of skill in any of those areas. But I can maybe work on one at a time, and obviously I've decided the YouTube video thing is at the top of my list. The others are dropped. For now.

2. Collaborate. If you don't have the skills, find someone who does. Maybe someone you already know, or there's always the option of getting a professional. My sisters a totally amazing artist, and even though I have way more ideas for collaboration than she has time or desire for, she did do the background for this blog. And I hope to rope her into at least a couple more projects before the end. If you need a book cover designed or a marketing strategy for a self-pubbed book, getting help is not a bad idea.

3. Do it anyway. This is my favorite option. The biggest downside is that you are going to make some mistakes. (Have you seen some of my videos? Oh dear...). Especially at first. The awesome idea in your head is still too awesome for your limited skills, which will probably leave you slightly disappointed at the end result. But keep going. Be patient. Practice. Learn. Teach yourself or take extra classes. Fake it till you make it. Doing it this way means you don't have to rely on anyone else, you can get it done the way you want to get it done and when you want to get it done, and even if it leaves something to be desired, it's still totally yours. Your skills will expand, meaning that you become closer and closer to making all those awesome ideas a reality.

Really this is just a long way of me saying please forgive the amateurish videos and illustrations that may appear on this blog. I'm working on it.

What do you think? Do these work, or can you think of other ways to make it work when you don't gots the skillz?

Sarah Allen


  1. Ahhh! This is exactly what I'm worried about right now. Last year, I thought of an idea for a novel. I LOVED this idea. Best idea ever. Then I wrote it. I think. ... I'm still not sure if I did it justice?! Now I'm just hoping and praying that my drafts and drafts and rewrites have gotten it into a shape that's somewhat worthy of the original idea. I hope!

    Also, thanks for stopping by my blog the other day!

  2. i think doing it badly is the only way to (one day) doing it properly. Failing is valluable.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  3. How about Learn It? That could be a mixture of numbers two and three, or just three, but it changes the approach just a little.

  4. fake it till ya make it---jk--i don't have any answers

  5. Love this! I need to expand my creativity beyond just writing--that would be so fulfilling! Good luck!

  6. This is a great list. Sometimes I drop things. Sometimes I push through. And sometimes I have to do some research to keep the excitement in the project.

    Other things to do when you don't have the skills? Um, read a book? Ha!

  7. I say go for it anyway. Someone told me once that you might as well shoot for the moon, right?

  8. Great tips. I always end up doing #3 though.:)

  9. Hehe, I feel like putting that cat photo on my desktop background. Pretty funny. Good ideas in this post--I like these suggestions! And yep, we can always learn to do the things we don't have the "skillz" for. Just depends on how badly we want it!

  10. I'm guilty of staying within my comfort zone most of the time - I just don't let myself have ideas that I can't do.

  11. With the artistic stuff, I would just need to find someone I trust to implement it--I have no skills whatsoever that way. But I've definitely had writing ideas i felt were too big. And I have a fourth option. Post pone it. Do another project but begin trying to collect the information or experience you will need. I have a writing project planned for next month that I've been thinking about for over a year. I've written scenes, plotted some. But it has seemed SO HUGE. I refer to it as my apocalypse tale, and I've been trying to watch television and movies to feed the idea... I FINALLY feel up to it, but since the time I thought of it, i've written 3 other books.

  12. I think those are all really great thoughts and options. As Clint Eastwood (as Dirty Harry) said in Magnum Force, "Yep, a man's gotta know his limitations." Great post Sarah.

  13. That is great advice. i always have crazy ideas that I have no way of making happen. Thanks for sharing.


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