Why you should just start something

It’s a cliche.

“Why wait to do tomorrow what you could do now?”

But here’s the thing: until you start doing something, there’s no way to find out how to get better, and there’s now way to find out if you’re interested in it.

Here’s the secret: No one really knows what they’re doing when they start out. Even people who are the best in their field now weren’t there on day one.

You and I can do what we want to do in the long(er) term by starting to do those things right now and putting in the effort to improve.

Here’s an example:

Last year I got interested in podcasting. So I started a podcast — kind of. I had a lot of help from the former Audio Director at The Daily Tar Heel, Alice Wilder. She produced the first two episodes and I just wrote the scripts and did the interviews. Then, she taught me a little bit about producing, and I made the final episode myself.

Now I’m in the role she was last year at the DTH. Why? Because I just started doing things.

I decided I wanted to be good at creating audio stories. So I practiced on my own. I read every article I could on Transom, NPR Training and watched all the tutorials on Lynda.com. I applied to and got to make a story with a program called NPR’s Next Generation Radio.

I listened to podcasts and radio non-stop. I talked about podcasts with friends. I read about them online. I paid attention to what people who were making them were saying. I paid attention to what people who make audio stories said about other peoples’ projects.

That’s how I’ve gotten better. I’ve tried a lot, and failed in major ways during most of those attempts, but I’ve learned at every step along the way.

Am I at some level of zen in the world of audio storytelling? Absolutely not. I still have so much to learn in every step of the process, but I’ve learned so much in the last year, and I’m not going to stop learning anytime soon. I guess I’ve learned a lot because last night I got to answer a couple questions in front of a Podcasting 101 Workshop led by Betsy O’Donovan and Jeff Shaw.

After I realized how I could improve as an audio storyteller, I started taking similar steps in other areas of storytelling I’ve always wanted to ‘be good’ at.

I decided I wanted to be able to take pictures, so I started taking them.

I wanted to write a feature story for Indy Week during my internship this summer, so I did.

I wanted to start a few podcasts at The Daily Tar Heel and give other students the chance to work on them. I did, and they do.

Nothing is going to wait for you. Adding value to myself as a writer, creator and innovator has always come when I’ve taken action.

So I’m going to keep making. You should too.