One of the things that I experimented with and made tons of mistakes in is my freelance career. At first, I did EVERYTHING. You need a logo? Why, I could do that. You need a website designed and coded? I could do that too!
You can tell what happened after that, right?
I did great as a freelance designer. I had regular work and great clients. The problem was I originally left my cushy (but crazy busy and demanding) design job to become a children’s illustrator. I was failing miserably at working towards this goal. I let the fear of trying something new and feeling like my art wasn’t good enough get in the way. I fell back into what I already knew how to do to ignore all of my insecurities.
Then I came across Seth Godin’s book, The Dip. It basically talks about how everything is easy when you first start something. It’s exciting and new. Then the hard work sets in. You have to battle insecurities, fears, and just plain hard work to become really good at what you want to do. That’s "the dip"– the long hard slog in the middle before you get to the other side of mastering your skill. Most people give up because going through that middle part is so long and hard.
After I finished listening to the audio version of this book, I decided that I didn’t want to give up on being an illustrator. I gradually stopped taking on design projects as I focused on children’s illustration. That focus and bracing for the fact that things are just going to be hard and discouraging in the middle kept me on task.
A year after I read The Dip, I feel like I’m still working hard but I’m clearly on the right path.
If you feel scattered or just discouraged, I really encourage you to try this book. It’s super-short and the audio book is only about 90 minutes. You can’t beat the audiobook price of $5.95 too.