In his book Some Thoughts About Writing, Patrick Rohne says something I thought was extremely powerful. It has the potential to revolutionize the way you get work done, whether you are a programmer, designer, developer, writer, artist, musician, or any other creative type:
The right tool is the one you have with you.
Many people wait for the perfect circumstances before they start creating. What usually ends up happening is those circumstances you visualize in your mind never materialize exactly the way you thought they would and you end up not actually doing anything. Just because you dont have the “right tool” doesn’t mean you can’t create.
Eric Clapton can make the the crappiest guitar sound great. You could give me the nicest , most expensive guitar rig in the world, and it’s still not going to sound nearly as good as Slowhand on a Squire Strat.
No tool can compensate for a lack of ability, and ability comes from experience. A teacher can say “do as I say not as I do”, but the best teachers are the ones who can say “do as I say and as I do”.
You don’t need a new computer, a new app, new camera, or a new instrument before you can start creating. In fact, if you wait until you get the “perfect setup”, you probably won’t make anything! There will always be something newer, better, and shinier that will distract you from getting actual work done.
Maybe the “tool” you’ve been waiting for is time. Well, I have good news and bad news.
- Bad news: you will never find enough time.
- Good news: you can always make enough time.
If you want time to do something you’ve always wanted to do (write a book, start a blog, learn an instrument, etc.), YOU must make the time. YOU must make it a priority. There are no shortcuts to “awesome” – YOU must do the work. Saying you don’t have time for something is often an attempt to justify your busy-ness (“look at all the tasks I have to do”), but really (most times) it just highlights a lack of direction and focus. We say we’re “busy” like it’s a badge of honor, but it just shows how poorly we manage our time. The reason you have so many tasks to complete could be because you can’t say “no” to anything.
At the heart of not being to say “no” is the inability to identify your true purpose. You need a vision. You need to write down your goals. These will determine your priorities and will chart the course for your future. You need to find and do what gives you life – you need to find what makes your spirit say “YES!”. When you know your “YES!”, it’s easy to say “no” to things that distract from your goals. So what I hear when someone says “I don’t have time” is really “that’s not a priority to me”. Which is completely fine (you don’t want to get coffee with me? I’ll get over it), except that we often say “no” to the things that are most important because we’ve said “yes” to too much “filler” in order to uphold our artifical standard of being “busy”. If creating something awesome is a priority for you, you WILL make the time. You will start with what you have, and you will start immediately.
Patrick talks about doing the majority of his writing on his phone since he always has it with him when inspiration hits. It’s definitely not the most “efficient” way to write in terms of words per minute, but he’s also published several books so does that really matter? Maybe he could write more if he adapted his workflow, but as Jon Acuff says, “some beats none every time.” Patrick is creating great content, and he’s been doing it for a LONG time. His methods work for him because those are the tools that he has to work with, and he’s making the most of them while chasing his “awesome”.
Zechariah 4:10 says “Don’t despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (NLT). Wherever you are, whatever tools you have, just start.