Have you ever started a project, one you were super excited about, and then when the deadline came (and went), you didn’t complete it? It feels like the story of my life.
A few months ago, I signed up to participate in the #100dayproject. You’ve probably seen it around Instagram, but essentially, you create something every day for 100 days and you document your process on Instagram.
Well, I’ve become obsessed with podcasts over the past year and kept toying with the idea of starting one for myself. But I knew absolutely nothing about creating a podcast. I did my research – reading how-to books and watching a bunch of video tutorials – and I figured I could learn anything else I didn’t know along the way.
I went back and forth between two subject areas I wanted to pursue and finally settled on a podcast interviewing survivors of sexual trauma. It’s a topic that is very important to me, as a survivor myself. And I knew that I wanted to help remove the shame from their stories and let them know they are not alone.
Once I chose the topic, things moved pretty quickly. I did all the things you’re supposed to do when starting a new venture – reserve all the social media accounts, get the website and logo, and tell all your friends about it.
I couldn’t wait to get started!
I tied the creation of the podcast to the #100dayproject and was going to officially launch on the 100th day.
I recorded a couple of episodes with two very gracious guests. I had a professional intro and outro recorded for the podcast. And that’s pretty much where I hit a wall.
What I didn’t really internalize during my research was the immense cost involved – of time, money, and energy. Figuring out how to use the editing and recording programs, calculating the costs for podcast hosting and equipment, etc. It all just began to add up and I became overwhelmed.
The launch date kept inching closer and my stress and anxiety levels began to increase accordingly. The incredibly supportive people in my life would ask me for updates and I felt like a complete failure.
What will people think? Why did I tell anyone? How was I, a stay at home mom trying to make ends meet on one family income, going to find the money to get this project going? What if I did all this and no one even listened? How will I record all these episodes with my kids at home being noisy? Why don’t I ever finish what I start?
You get the idea.
Feeling dejected, I put the whole thing on hold while I figured out what to do. Then, I saw a preview on TV about a new show called The Defiant Ones featuring Dr. Dre and his journey in the music business – how he got started, to where he is now. And during one of the episodes, the subject of his long-awaited album came up. He’d been working on it for 10 years. Various record executives and his friends and the media kept asking him if it was finished and why it was taking so long.
And Dr. Dre’s response was,
“You can’t put a time limit on creativity.”
I sat back in my chair and felt this profound sense of relief and immediately began to cry.
This was my problem.
I was trying to rush and meet this arbitrary deadline and stressing myself out.
Why is 100 days my time limit? I should in fact take my time and give this incredibly sensitive topic the attention it deserves. And I should especially worry less about what other people will think. The people who care about me will support me whether it takes 100 days or 1,000 days.
So, if you’re in a similar situation, fielding questions about when your book/movie/podcast/art project/whatever is going to be complete – remember these three things:
1. It’s okay to postpone or even scrap a project if the timing isn’t right.
Forcing yourself to complete something is only going to make things worse. It takes all of the joy and fulfillment out of creating and turns it into a burden.
2. Don’t worry so much about what other people will say or think.
The reality is that no one in your life is going to sign up for the Project Police and lock you up. You don’t really owe anyone an explanation, but if you feel inclined to give one, just be honest about it. When it’s ready, your number one fans will be there to cheer for you.
3. You know what they say, it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.
You may think this is the direction you want to go, but as you move further along through the process, you may end up somewhere completely different. And that is totally OK. The creative process is different for everyone.
As for me, I still plan on launching the podcast at some point. I want to be a friendly voice, encouraging more people to speak out about sexual trauma because it’s something that profoundly impacts every aspect of a survivor’s life, and is still a subject that is considered taboo.
But when will that day come? Eh. It’ll happen when it happens. Dr. Dre told me so.