We bought our first house at the beginning of the summer and we are slowly working our way through the long list of improvements. My husband is in charge of outdoor projects and I am in charge of the indoor projects, in part because I have never used a lawnmower in my life, and he has never used a power drill.

To be fair, I had never used a power drill either until a few weeks ago, but I do have a decent basic handywoman skillset thanks to my parents owning rental property when I was a teenager. I have painted and caulked and ripped up carpet and even made a night table once from scrapwood.

I never needed anything more than that basic knowledge as a renter. Now that we own, I know I need to learn more. So I invited over my colleague while my husband and son were in France to teach me how to do a few other things. And he highly suggested I buy a power drill. The right tool for the job makes all the difference, he said.

When someone who knows how to do something you want to do tells you what to buy in order to do it, you listen, right?

The project I bought it for was a small one: install a magnetic doorstop on our bedroom door that won’t stay open. I tried doing it manually but the wood was just too hard to get the screws in without some added force. When i went to the hardware store, I told the sales associate that, as per my colleague’s instructions, I needed a standard drill/driver to do basic stuff around the house. I’m not building furniture, I explained, just hanging pictures and switching out sconces.

When the sales associate handed me the box with the drill, I asked “so is this all I need?” Well no, I’ll need the drill bits, too, apparently. Hmm, my colleague hadn’t mentioned this. Maybe he thought I would know this, or it has simply been so long since he had to buy one, he forgot. So I got the drill bits, too.

A few days later, I’m back at the house making the holes for doorstop, and it’s a little scary. So much power! I try to keep it steady… the holes look great! It took two seconds! This is awesome! Right tool for the right job, indeed. Feeling pretty pumped. I go to screw it into the wall and…

Huh, shouldn’t these fancy drill/driver things be able to screw things in, too?

The sales associate had not sold me the screw bits. Back to the store I go, slightly grumpy. I had asked “Is this all I need?” hadn’t I? It was clearly the first time I was buying a power drill; I think I had even said it was my first and I wanted a good one to last a long time. And I hadn’t known the drill bits were separate. Was I supposed to have asked about screw bits as well?

I ended up going to the store three times to do one job. Not because i didn’t know what I wanted. I did. I wanted my door to stay open. So I got the doorstop that would do it. I thought I had a way to install it. When that didn’t work (and not sure why I was surprised I couldn’t force a screw into a wall using just my wrist strength) I got the tool someone more experienced told me to get. Only they didn’t tell me about all the little bits they forgot were an essential part, since they’d been using it so long. Or maybe they’d gotten it as a set originally. And then the person selling it to me didn’t realize I didn’t have all I needed, so I bought something incomplete.

To those of you who have gotten this far, thank you! I promise there is a link to self-publishing. Maybe you can already see it.

When you jump into home ownership (=self-publishing), no matter how much research you’ve done, there will be skills and tools you’ll need. Some you have to learn and some you have to buy. You’ll ask others for help, and their advice may or may not be exactly what you need. Very likely it will not be all you need.

So how do you know if you have the right skills for something?

The most important skills are persistence and willingness to learn. I had both in this example. I could have just thrown up my hands after the first failed attempt and invited my colleague back to install it (he would have been thrilled – he loves fixing things). But I kept going on my own, learning as I went and in the end, I got my doorstop installed. Plus, I now have a cool little power tool sitting in my toolbox I can use for other things. Like installing a handrail for our basement stairs next week. I am awaiting some parts from colleague to start that one… a third skill perhaps is willingness to be helped.

As much as people focus on the obvious skills for self-publishing there is really nothing you can’t learn or buy along the way, as long as you keep at it, and are open to help and learning. Moms are already pretty good at these things. You didn’t know everything about kids when you had your first baby, and maybe even felt a little awkward and unsure holding and changing and feeding. But you learned those things, along with a bunch of other stuff, because you were willing to, had some people around to ask, and didn’t give up.

Are you ready to get started? Check out the free writer mom self-publishing workbook for more on the “how” of your indie author mom life.

 

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