I had a great idea after the Wild Wonder conference. Inspired by various talks, I decided I wanted to start capturing the colors where I live in a project called Local Color. I could practice mixing watercolors while focusing on native species and identifying the distinctive parts of my local landscape. I even started a long post about this project, all the sources that inspired it, and how I was going to do it.
Well, I started to write about how I was going to do it. Then I got stuck. Should I make small cards to collect my colors on or buy a special journal? How often should I go out? How long should the project last? What other rules should I have for myself? I know having guidelines can make it easier to do a creative project, but too many restrictions can turn what was supposed to be fun into a chore.
Faced with decisions I couldn’t make, I never got started. Except for having my eyes open for colors I might collect, I haven’t done a thing.
There are plenty of excuses for not starting, like the fact that the weather hasn’t been ideal. (It’s hard to get outside when ash is falling from the sky.) The real obstacle, however, is that I’m trying to figure out the very best way to do this project. I want it to be amazing, but until I start actually doing something, it’s not going to be anything at all.
I’m letting my fear of making a mistake hold me back. So the wise words I am embracing today are these:
I have heard that an eagle misses seventy percent of its strikes. Why should I expect to do better?Sophy Burnham, For Writers Only, p. 129
I can’t succeed if I’m not willing to fail. So I will shift my focus from what I will wind up with to what I want to be doing. I will start mixing colors, even if I have to match the sickly orange smoke-filled sky from inside the house, and stop worrying about the final product.
I will just start. And I will develop a method for collecting the colors as I go along, figuring everything out in the process of doing it. It won’t be perfect, but it will be done. And I’ll probably learn a lot along the way.
Does fear of making a mistake hold you back? How do you get past it to start a project?