Tom Froese

Mid-Summer Update

Checking in With Myself about This Year’s Goals

It’s late July already. I’ve been taking a break from writing here since early June, mostly so I could focus on writing and producing my next Skillshare class. I was due to publish it early this month, but in classic Tom Froese fashion, it took (and is taking) longer than I hoped!

Writing classes is always a struggle for me, because, while I know the general topic I will be teaching, it takes me a lot of digging to find my specific angle. As an illustration teacher, there are only so many topics to go around, and I have to work hard to find my own take on topics that everyone else is teaching. There has been no harder topic for me to teach than the one I’m trying to teach now: colour.

The long and short of it is that I have indeed found my angle, and I have already recorded most of the class. There are a few more parts to add, and then I will go into editing. I expect now that I will probably be able to launch the class in early September. That’s a long time after I was hoping, but this is just how things roll with me. I am a slow writer, and apparently, I am a slow video editor. Meanwhile I have been working on some larger client projects, and in fact, these are probably the real reason I have had to sideline my class production effort, not to mention the book I was supposed to be writing this year!

At this middle-ish point in the year, perhaps this is a time to reflect on my goals for 2021 and consider whether I am in a good spot or if I need to adjust my trajectory.

My big goal was to write the first manuscript of my book by the end of this year. While there is theoretically time, I am doubtful that it will happen. I am hoping to launch one more Skillshare class after this one, and I have no idea what client projects are coming down the pike, and whether I will feel compelled to take them on.

I am in the middle of some hair client projects right now, and of course, in the middle of birthing out this colour class. The kids are home from school all summer, and we are just coming out of home renovations (which were also very disruptive for my work). I’m just distracted all around. Hopefully there will come a time, very shortly, when the dust settles and I feel more space, mentally, to focus on writing. I was in a really good flow earlier this year, and I am missing it. At the same time, the reason I was able to focus was that I was not getting decent work anyway. Now that real work is coming in, and the projects are decent, I am feeling less confident about saying “yes” to my writing and “no” to the temptation of lucrative work. It was easier to say no when there wasn’t much to say yes to.

What do I need to do moving forward? Focus on my tasks-at-hand and to do them to the best of my abilities. To not give my clients anything less than my best. To work with integrity. Once I have cleared my current obligations, it may be necessary to sacrifice new opportunities for a time while I get back on track with my class writing and production as well as my book. I owe it to myself to make this happen. The book is not a fanciful, self-indulgent project: it’s a project I believe in, which I believe will yield more fruit later on, far beyond what client work can give me in the short term.

So perhaps that’s just it: I need to say no to client work moving forward and continue to invest my time on this book and my Skillshare classes. My heart is in writing and teaching, and from what I can tell, not much in client work. If I don’t allow myself to grow as a writer and teacher (at the expense of client work), I will not see the success I hope for.

I end this entry without a strong sense of confidence in this resolution, but what I do have is clarity: I cannot do it all. It’s time to re-establish a focus that works for me and the work that I truly hope to do.

Illustrator. Creatively Empowering Teacher/Speaker. Represented by Making Pictures/UK & Dot Array/USA. Top Teacher on @skillshare.