Mazda Miata hardtop. Osaka, 2018

Doing Things Poorly is Better than Not Doing it At All!

Mazda Miata hardtop. Osaka, 2018
Mazda Miata hardtop. Osaka, 2018

Dear friend,

A thought: it is better to do things poorly than not to do them at all!


We are happiest when we make stuff

Lights at night. Osaka, 2018
Lights at night. Osaka, 2018

As humans, we are the happiest when we are in the active mode of creation. When we are creating poetry, when we are creating songs, creating pictures or photos, creating dance movements, etc.

However in the modern world, a lot of us are intimidated to create, because we look at all this awesome stuff on YouTube and the internet and think,

“No matter how hard I try, I will never be as good as [X].”

Dancing psy

Let me give you an example: a lot of people who want to start their own YouTube channels are intimidated, because nowadays all of the popular YouTubers have insanely high productions in their videos — high resolution video quality, professional-grade microphone and sound quality, and fancy editing. Thus to the beginner or newbie, they become too overwhelmed with all the technical details, and never start.

This is funny because when I started YouTube in 2011, it was just full of dumb stuff, and cheap quality videos. I started my YouTube channel with no experience in video or editing. I just had a crappy laptop webcam, and a basic GoPro to do videos. To me, because I was a beginner and ignorant and naive, I had fun. I had no concept of what “good editing” was, or how to do a “proper interview”. I was totally ignorant of all of these “film school” principles, and I’m glad. This prevented me from falling victim to “paralysis by analysis”. I just made fun and random videos of whatever interested me, or whatever was fun to me, and from 2011-2018 I was able to gain 50,000+ subscribers on YouTube with zero video or editing skills.

However after a while, I started to get pressured to make more “professional” quality videos, with fancy lighting setups, fancy microphone and audio setups, and I started to fall victim to “paralysis by analysis”. Rather than focusing on what was the most important (the content of the video), I started to focus too much on the technical aspects. This hurt me — I lost that child-like naïveté for making fun and random videos, and thus I became less prolific in making videos.


Make stuff that pleases you!

Recently, I dusted off my old GoPro Hero 3 and have been making fun videos again for myself. Just random videos of my travels and living arrangements. Here are my new rules:

  1. Only make videos or stuff that interests me: I don’t want to make videos which might be “popular” or “go viral”. It’s pretty obvious what kinds of videos are popular (gear review videos, etc) but doing these videos are mostly boring to me. By making videos and stuff that’s first interesting to me, I naturally have more excitement, enthusiasm, and authenticity in my videos. And to me, authenticity is the only judge of whether a piece of art is good or bad.
  2. Don’t worry too much about the editing or audio-visual quality: Focus on the content, that the content is inspiring, motivational, or empowering. Basic “good enough” audio-visual is sufficient for me.
  3. Just do it: Don’t overthink making videos, just have fun and do it.

Play like a child

Cindy going down stairs. Osaka, 2018
Cindy going down stairs. Osaka, 2018

I’ve been super inspired by my 2.5 year old niece Amelia, who makes her own songs and dances without caring whether they are “good” or not. Amelia doesn’t care whether “it has been done before” or not. She just plays and has fun.

Cindy on escalator. Osaka, 2018
Cindy on escalator. Osaka, 2018

I feel as creators, we must do the same. Let us disregard whether something has been done before or not — if you haven’t done it before (yet want to do it), it is worth doing!

Why do things poorly?

Low rider. Osaka, 2018
Low rider. Osaka, 2018

Also, this is my new philosophical belief:

Doing something poorly is better than never doing it.

This is my rationale:

  1. If you’re a beginner or newbie, of course the quality of whatever you produce won’t be as good as a professional or expert who has been doing it for a decade or longer. You must go through the baby steps in order to get really good in any field.
  2. Discouragement is death to the beginner. If you’re starting off in anything new, avoid discouragement and “nay saying” at all costs! If you’re a seedling, you need encouragement and protection from the cruel outside elements in order to grow into a redwood tree. Baby lions need to be protected from predators in order to grow to become big and strong. When we are baby artist lion-cubs, we also need to be protected from “haters”/predators from the outside to grow and evolve.
  3. You will never have the opportunity to innovate or create something new without attempting it. Thus, allow yourself to be foolish and try new things. Also when you’re starting something new, don’t follow the manual. Try learning via trial and error, and just experimenting by yourself. This will prevent you from just following the beaten (and boring) path. Pave your own path and self-experiment— you might discover a new technique or approach that experts didn’t even know was possible! This is the benefit of the beginner (beginner’s mind)—you see opportunities, rather than restrictions (expert’s mind).
Triangle building. Osaka, 2018
Triangle building. Osaka, 2018

Never stop growing, innovating, and making new stuff!

Cindy at work inside our Airbnb. Osaka, 2018
Cindy at work inside our Airbnb. Osaka, 2018

In other words, allow yourself to experiment, fail, and do things poorly. It doesn’t matter whether the stuff you make or do is bad or good — the most important thing is for you to experiment, try out new things, and to be motivated to create new stuff!

Orange and green at night. Osaka, 2018
Orange and green at night. Osaka, 2018

In photography, try out new genres that you’re interested in. Allow yourself to make “shitty photos”. Allow yourself to make photos without having the pressure of sharing them. Make your own photos for yourself. For the sake of having fun, experimenting, and learning something new.

Cindy tilting her head, and Osaka river at night. 2018
Cindy tilting her head, and Osaka river at night. 2018

Let’s keep having fun, being foolish, and innovating like children!

BE CHILDISH,
ERIC

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