How Do I Make Something?

If you’re here, you’re probably standing at the cusp of your second act. You’ve worked in an industry and you feel your career is ready for a change.

Maybe that change means a new industry, maybe that change means a new title, and maybe that change means branching outside of your current career and forging a path never before created.  

This post is for those folks. The path foragers. The ones who want to make something besides money but don’t know how to get going with the making.

Whatever it is you’re seeking to make – a blog, a design business, an Etsy-powered shop of curated knick-knacks – we can all agree the physical act of starting is daunting. It’s beyond daunting. It’s hella uncomfortable. It’s “I just realized I forgot to put pants on before giving this presentation to the whole school” scary. It’s the fucking worst.

All makers have stood where you’re standing, friend. All makers have asked themselves the same questions you have. And today, we’re going give you the answers you so desperately need.

What if I’m not an expert at the thing I want to do?  

Can I be frank? Who fucking cares?

Right now, at this exact moment where you’re wanting to create something and you don’t know how, you are already building. You’ve built an idea. That idea did not exist in the way you imagined it before it came to be in your brain-space. You didn’t study how to have an idea, or consult experts on idea curation. You just had the idea.

You know you want to build a website or design a dress, but you’re not a web designer or a fashion visionary. Guess what? It’s okay to not be an expert. Level of expertise should NEVER stop you from going for it. We’ve got Google Search Bars and YouTube and Industry Experts and a plethora of other resources out in this big beautiful world of ours to build our expertise over time.

Come to the table without that base knowledge on that thing you’re hoping to make. No one cares what you’re bringing, we just want you to sit.  

How do I do it if I don’t know how?

You know the answer here, friends. You try. You learn. You Google search it.  

Starting something from scratch can mean dozens of tabs open on your internet browser at once and that’s okay. Ask the questions you have in the safety of an internet browser. No one can review your browser history and shame you for googling “What the hell is CSS” unless you let them.

And if we’re being honest with ourselves, this idea of not being an expert on something is rooted in the fear that because we don’t know what we’re doing, our creation will not be good. We feel like we need to wait, and learn, and become a subject matter expert before we put our creative visions into the world because we’re just not good at it otherwise.

Sister, it’s totally normal to feel this way. And you’re not the only person who did it.

Do you know how Post-Its were invented? More importantly do you know who invented Post-Its?

They weren’t invented by accident. Someone didn’t accidentally drop a colorful piece of square paper into some glue, shouting “EURIKA!”

The man who invented Post-Its was in a choir. He wanted a way to bookmark the pages of a hymnal that A.) Wouldn’t damage the pages of the book and B.) Wouldn’t be in the way or fall out of the book as they were moved about.

 That’s it. He had an instinct and he acted on it. He made the idea, then he made the thing. Do you think he had the thought of “Well, I’m no paper expert.” Or “I don’t know enough about an easily removable adhesive to make this possible.” Probably. He probably felt just as afraid and clueless as you do when he went about making it. But he made it and overtime became the expert on it.

 The same will happen to you.

 What if I’m not good at it?

 If you’re asking yourself how to start something new when you’re not good at it, you won’t ever start. You just need to jump in, think of what you want to create and just start figuring out how to do it.

Here’s a hot tip: Start with something similar. Take that thing apart. Look at all the different pieces of it and ask yourself what you would change if you could.  

You’ll have a lot of mental and physical tools in your arsenal when you’re entering new frontiers, and curiosity is the most important of all of them. Be curious enough to seek out things like your thing and resolve to make them better.

Note that I said “better” and not “perfect.” Perfection is a painfully unrealistic standard. Making something isn’t a one and done sort of deal. Pablo Picasso created roughly 100 masterpieces in his lifetime, but he was always making something, roughly two new art pieces a day in every day of his life in fact.

Out of 50,000+ works of art, he is remembered by roughly 100 masterpieces. Think of all he learned in the time between masterpieces. Think of all the lessons and failures and imperfections that made way for works of art treasured by the world today.

If you love making the thing that you’re making, you won’t mind any rough edges. Your passion can smooth those for you.  

What if I spend all this time making something and no one cares?

Friend, someone always cares. You care.

The reason you want to make something in the first place is because you had a need for it. You made that thing for you first. Never forget that. Even if making your thing only moves you, you’ve made an impact.

For the creators and makers of the world, wondering whether or not people give a shit about your work will always be there. The beauty of putting things out in the universe for others to see is that everyone will interpret it differently.

Someone will see your thing and they will feel something. Happiness, sadness, anger, hunger, jealousy, frustration. Whatever. It’s completely up to them. It may be the complete opposite of what you intended. It may be something you didn’t think of at all. But because you made them feel something with that thing you made, you’ve made an impact on them.

When you put something out into the world that didn’t exist before, you have made something. That thing you created has never been created in the way you created it. It had never been on this Earth until you came along.

If you are being called to make something, if you feel in your chemical make-up that you have an idea that needs to be seen by the world, get making. Get messy. Get scrappy. Get imperfect. Just get making.