Starting Small and Celebrating Big

2018 has been an exciting year for me. As you may know, this year I self-published my first picture book with a Kickstarter campaign. This past month was spent receiving books, packaging, and shipping Kickstarter orders. It was such a gratifying feeling to hold the final book in my hand, and to receive boxes of them in the mail! It was months, over a year, of hard work on this book and promoting it. My expectations were low, to be honest, and I am so happy with the way everything turned out! 

Receiving boxes of books from my first Kickstarter! 

Truth be told, I was overwhelmed most of the time. When I am overwhelmed, I tend to ugly cry (no pictures of this, thank goodness!). It took four months to get the book finalized, formatted, printed, and shipped. Not to mention the time before that to write and illustrate the book, as well as prepare and run the Kickstarter campaign.  Everyone received their book in time for Christmas, just as I had planned, but I always had a sense of frustration for not being able to deliver as fast as I had hoped. In all of this, I have learned to give myself a break! 

There is a saying that goes, “When is the best time to plant a tree? 25 years ago. When is the next best time to plant a tree? Today.” With this in mind, I began my journey towards becoming a published author/illustrator. I stopped waiting for things to be perfect, and just started taking baby steps. A tree takes decades to grow big and full, but a career also takes decades to grow and be fruitful. I learned to stop comparing myself, to stop being hard on myself, and to just do it! Now I sound like a Nike commercial… 

Like I said, I have been baby-stepping my way. Baby steps include branding myself as a children’s artist on social media, picking projects and creating art that are in line with this brand and the direction I want to go. I have been actively building my illustrator portfolio and network of other children’s writers. 

This month’s big step was opening an Etsy shop. Though I am still working on uploading my art prints to Etsy!

The biggest ongoing challenge has been managing motherhood and starting a side hustle, mainly time management. I did not enjoy the continual feeling that I was frustrated with my kids for distracting me while working, but I was also frustrated at my work for getting me frustrated at the kids. It was a cycle that had to stop! Common advice I received has been to wake up early or go to sleep really late to get work done, but most days I was too exhausted to even stay awake during the kids bedtime routine. Other moms are nodding in sympathy as they read this.

Packaging Kickstarter orders while the kids nap.

But over time, I learned how to structure the kid’s day in a way that allowed me to free up at least one hour to get my work done. Every morning (okay, most mornings), I make a priority list to tackle during their nap time to get the most important things done. Eventually, I trained myself to wake up at 6:30 am, and then 5:30 am, and now I get up at 4:30 am to get my work done (about 4 out of 7 days I wake up at 4:30 am). During the day, I am present with the boys and not thinking about my list. During work time, I am not thinking about the boys. I have found this is the best way to make it work for me. 

2018 has been a year of growth! Of keeping commitments, mainly promises I make to myself. It has been a year of growing in confidence and getting out of my comfort zone. My next goals for 2019 are to promote my Etsy shop and share my art, not just the book. 

May your holidays be merry and bright! May your New Years be full of growth  and hope for the future!

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