Sunday 2nd April 2017

One of the things that’s really occupied my mind the last few days is starting to film this vlog.  I’ve been watching a lot of Youtube recently and mentally noting all the things I need to do:  I need to get some proper lighting, I need to be doing something rather than just sitting there talking to camera, I need to make sure my house is spotless.
Then, and only then, when this ever-increasing list of items is done can I really start filming.  I’d wanted to start yesterday but didn’t feel ready.  I was going to go somewhere nice and do some filming today but time ran away from me.
And then I realised.  I was making the same huge mistake a lot of new writers make.
I was wanting perfection before I started.
So many writers before they embark on a novel put obstacles in their way.  They need a new computer, they need some new writing software, they need to watch an entire boxset for research before they dive into the novel.  It’s procrastination out of fear.
I like to talk about patterns, and this was a case of me following that same pattern.
It’s my experience that if you want to start something, be it a vlog or a novel or going to the gym or whatever, you have to start.  What I mean by that is that you have to take that first step and go from thinking or planning, to actual doing.
So many people make the mistake of looking at someone who’s made a lot of progress in their craft and feel that’s their baseline.  They feel that unless they can replicate that level of ‘good’ it’s not worth starting.  So they’ll go away and gather knowledge, tools and equipment to enable them to do the same before they’ll even consider embarking.
But here’s a truth, and it’s a truth I needed to tell myself today.
You have to be shit before you can be good.
I was afraid to start vlogging because I was afraid that what I’d create would not be up there in quality with the world’s top vloggers.  How stupid is that?  I’m not even wanting to be a Youtube star, I just want to document my journey as a writer.  And yet I suddenly decide I need to be better that Casey Neistat.
I see so many people put off writing because they’re not at the level of Stephen King.  I see so many people put off going to the gym because they’re not fit.  And I did the same looking at vlogging.
You improve by doing.  You improve by first being shit.
As someone who’s pretty fearless it surprised me that I was scared by the prospect of starting.
I’ve had an editing project hanging over me for the best part of 9 months.  I took ridiculous amount of footage storm chasing last year.  When we were actively chasing I had 2 cameras running full time.  As a result I came back with hours and hours of footage, some of it pure gold.
And yet, I still hadn’t done my 4 minute video because I was worried that I might leave out a great clip, that I might make something less than what it could be, something less than perfect.  And so for the last 6 months it’s sat largely uncompleted.
It surprised me last week that friends could edit my videos from the weekend within a couple of hours.  I’ve also been in awe of daily vloggers who somehow find time to edit an episode and go and do stuff every single day.
My revelation today made me pick up my storm chasing video this afternoon.  I worked for hours finding clips and arranging them to the soundtrack, never worrying if they were the best clips.  I still have the source files after all.  I can always make another video.
And you know what?  By late evening, I had a video.
Is it perfect?  Nope.  Is it the best I could do with my ability?  Pretty close.  In one evening I did more work than I’d done in the last 9 months and put something together I’m really proud of.  People seem to like it and one friend has even shared it.
Watching it back, it’s pretty cool.
But it’s just proved to me that I maybe have to make some shit vlogs before I make some good ones.  It’s OK having high standards to begin with so long as those standards are not ever-moving targets.
I need to convince myself to stop worrying about the look and feel of the content, and worry about the content instead.
That was an important lesson for me today, and one that saw a major task that’s been hanging over my head finally get done.  But it came at the expense of writing time.
The morning was spent with some writing tasks.   I didn’t go Swordfighting.   I ended up deciding that a 80 mile round trip through roadworks to find few people and none with a spare glove wasn’t worth my stress.  I’m feeling quite surly about my missing glove.  Not, I hasten to add, because I’m angry at the person who accidentally picked it up, but because it’s about the only thing I don’t have a spare of.
Instead I edited the latest edition of The Climb and wrote a draft of the monthly Year of the Offensive roundup.
I played some Star Wars The Old Republic this afternoon and finished off the planet of Taris.  It was whilst doing this that I came to my realisation about the vlogging, and so the work on the novel I had then planned to jump into, got gazumped by the video editing.
I was going to go to the gym this evening as well but the video editing was a welcome procrastination and by the time it was rendering and I was looking to cook dinner it was gone 9pm.
So on one level, I didn’t achieve much today.  I’d hoped to make some progress on the novel.  But I think I learnt an important lesson today, that you can constantly be willing to step outside your comfort zone and still fall into the trap of wanting perfection before you start.
I also accomplished something that’s been on my list for nearly a year and even if it wasn’t writing it was still storytelling.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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