If I’m honest I joined Escape the City’s Idea Accelerator programme last summer because I was terrified of quitting my job as a City lawyer. I hoped that being around others who had made, or were preparing to make, a similar “reckless decision” might normalise the whole thing for me.
This basic objective was fulfilled and, as I write from my travels in the US, I reflect upon my Escape experience.
The Escape team are currently recruiting for the next London cohorts. Check out their website at https://www.escapethecity.org. If you get involved, do drop my name and if you have any questions you’d like to ask me, please get in touch.
I have always written music but have been afraid of releasing into the world. Before starting the Escape programme I had also written a children’s book.
The Idea Accelerator programme was a 12 weeks spent with 29 other humans who all had their ideas to accelerate. The majority were start-up business ideas but the principles really worked for my creative projects.
Here’s how the Escape experience helped:
I gained a community of risk takers who not only normalised the idea of leaving my responsible job but celebrated it, supported my idea and were a weekly source of inspiration.
(2) Break it down
When I turned up to the course I had my music, my book and this blog in mind. I was trying to funnel them all in the same direction as one idea. In going through the exercises and processes on the course I quickly realised that these were three separate ideas so squishing them into the same funnel wouldn’t work. I then decided to focus on my book: The Unexpected Adventure of Ammerella Twigg.
(3) Reveal the yellow brick road
Once all the pieces were broken down, the amazing Escape team: Dom, Ben, Skye and Mia, were there with A3 pieces of paper, post-it notes and Sharpies to provide a pathway to pursue, explore and test the idea. This was hugely helpful for getting through the blocks that fear can put in the way of progress.
(4) Break it down, again
Next was to break the book idea down into its most basic form. How could I get it into the world without spending all my money?
(a) I printed 100 very basic versions of the book and gave them out to people, encouraging them to pass them on. These were my Beta readers. The more the books were passed on, I hoped that the more objective the feedback would become.
(b) I delved into bookstagram and contacted Instagram users who loved books. I sent three sample chapters to individuals who were interested in reading them.
This all gave me hugely helpful feedback so that I could get to the re-write.
(5) Acknowledge the fear
Putting yourself out there with your idea whether it is a piece of music, writing or a business is hugely scary. We usually hear stories after the success has happened so all those “rock bottom moments” seem romantic. They ain’t. The course and the community meant that there was support, inspiration and mentoring to keep those heads above water.
(6) Ask for help
Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle taught me to be an independent woman. They neglected to teach the next lesson: asking for help is not shameful. Sometimes other people have skills that can be hugely useful to us and that they are willing to share. In asking the beta readers for help, I learned that not only do people like to help, sometimes they are grateful for the opportunity. This absolutely blew my mind.
Where I’m at and how you can help:
I’m making music, traveling and writing as I have hoped to do for years but not been brave enough.
- Listen/follow: My first single, Parity, is available on Spotify… and please follow me by clicking on the button below, because 11 followers is never enough 🙂
https://open.spotify.com/follow/1/?uri=spotify:artist:0iolxnLHUhuYBeytiq95zm?si=E-zR8Sg4S0iAONwH1JPGsA&size=detail&theme=lightBe a beta reader: I’m looking for readers of version 2.0 of my book. Get in touch if you’d be interested in reading (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can read more about it here.
- Host a gig: I’m coming back to the UK in the summer and am keen to share the music I’ve been making on my travels. If you’d be interested in hosting a gig please get in touch (email@example.com).
What a few of the founders are up to 6 months on:
- Lizzy founded 18.TEN Housewares during the course and has been working on her beautiful designs which rethink common homeware products such as egg cups and toast racks. These products are due to be launched at Spotted Top Drawer in September 2018.
- Natasha went from banking to baking and founded Bakit, which provides kits of ready-measured ingredients for delicious cakes, delivered directly to you. She’s kindly offering a 30% discount off your first order using this code: FIRSTBAKIT.
- Sarah founded urban plant boutique: Succulence London, providing good-looking greenery to your homes, offices and Instagram feeds. She now has a shop in Walthamstow and she’d love to see you (Incubator 4, 6-10 Central Parade, 137 How Street, E17 4RT).
- Tash, our decluttering queen, founded Light Style Spacewhere she helps the hoarders among us to simplify their homes in a kind and non-judgmental manner. Tash will also help you sell valuable items and will give you any profits made as long as you spend the cash on experiences not things.
- Tash and Lisa met on the course and teamed up to co-found And The Future which starts with a bootcamp to make you more conscious about living a more sustainable life.
- Has founded The Drapery, where women can have existing outfits altered to truly fit them, or have their own clothing designs made from scratch. Confident, comfortable clothes. Designed by you and made by The Drapery with a 10% discount if you refer a friend.
- Martha created Freemans Tea, a most excellent tasting unique blend which she is continuing to perfect.
Thank you Escape the City.