Hi, it’s Amy here. I’m the illustrator at Art of Brilliance. I’m usually making magic happen behind the scenes, but I’m stepping out for this blog because I’ve got a VIM: a Very Important Message!
I’m gonna tell you how you can change your life, in one hour a day. And NO, I’ve not been sniffing the felt-tips, this is proper Amy wisdom.
You should listen to me because I draw pictures for a living! #PinchMeNow
I mean, who knew you could turn that into an actual job?
Which is kind of the point because it so nearly didn’t happen. Let me explain…
I graduated with an art degree with the ambition of becoming an illustrator, but five years later I was juggling three part-time jobs, none of them arty, and the colour was fading from my dream.
It wasn’t for the want of trying! I’d been for countless job interviews in big fancy-pants London companies where it’s totally like The X Factor. You get through the first round of a thousand people, then it’s down to hundreds, and if you’re lucky you get down to the final five, then the last three… then someone else gets the job! #Grrrrr!
Another day, another rejection letter. I had them coming out of my ears! My ‘Happy Ever After’ was turning into a lifetime of frustration and disappointment.
Then a friend of a friend put me in touch with a bloke from a small training company called Art of Brilliance.
I Googled the company and reached out with a tentative, ‘Hello there’ and guess what, it just so happened that they needed a few little arty projects doing. I loved doing the work because the Art of Brilliance messages were all about happiness, wellbeing and kindness, which I just immediately ‘got’. My playful, fun style had found its natural home.
But all I had was some occasional work, not even a foot in the door, more like a toe!
Until, all of a sudden, a huge opportunity smashed the door open!
The boss of Art of Brilliance (Andy) had written a manuscript called ‘The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager’. The only catch was there was no budget, and no publishing deal in sight. Remember, I’m going back 10 years. It was a different world. There were no self-help books for teenagers back then.
Nevertheless, Andy shared his dream with me. We could see it every day in our schools projects – teenagers were struggling! It was about inventing a genre! Would I be interested in creating the world’s first (and best) full colour personal development book for young people? Andy assured me that if we could produce an amazing product, it’d find a place on Waterstones’ bookshelves.
Back to ‘one hour a day will change your life’… a ridiculous amount of work, no payment, no guarantee, very little chance of success, but I was ALL in!
At the time, I was part-time receptionist, part-time shop assistant and ad-hoc race card seller at Uttoxeter races, as well as doing bits of freelance illustration work as and when it came in.
That’s four jobs, people! I didn’t have any more spare hours in the day, but I was also desperate to change my life, so one hour a day is what I did. One hour a day, every single day – and it was always the 1st hour of the day.
I’d set my alarm clock for 5am, wake up, wipe the sleep from my eyes, grab a coffee and crack on with my secret long-term ambition.
Of course, it wasn’t always just one hour, sometimes I’d sneak two in before I started my other four jobs, and then I’d probably squeeze in another two hours after I’d finished my 11-hour day as a receptionist (yep, I was working 16-hour days).
Coronation Street, forget it!
Pilates had to take a six-month holiday.
Sunday morning hangovers, I just had to get over them.
Hair washing slipped from a daily to twice weekly event because every hour counted.
Truth? I gave myself Christmas Day off but was back at my desk at 5am on Boxing Day.
I’ve since learned that this is called ‘flow’ – when you’re totally absorbed in a project. Sometimes I forgot to eat! The book was getting my ‘all’. Every page HAD TO be my best work, there was no ‘making do’ or getting by.
I was working 16-hour days… and do you know what? I loved them!
Here are some of the things that I learnt about my ‘one hour a day’ habit:
- Sixty minutes isn’t a huge amount of time – so there’s literally no excuse. You can do it first thing in the morning or, if you’re a night owl, squeeze a power hour in before bed.
- You quickly learn that it’s pretty amazing what you can get done in a fully-focused, distraction-free, strengths-based sixty minutes.
- I loved my hour (or more) in the morning before I started my ‘proper’ paid job because it reminded me of who I wanted to be and where I was headed. It was work, that didn’t feel like ‘work’.
- Like anything, initially those early mornings/late nights were painful, but once I started to see progress not only did it become addictive, but momentum really picked up and I was proud of what I was getting done.
In between juggling jobs and working on the book at weekends, it took me just over six months to complete the original artwork for The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager.
True to his word, Andy did manage to squeeze a publishing deal and Brill Teenager has sold squillions of copies all over world. It’s been translated into lots of languages, and I get fan mail from India!
I couldn’t be more proud, but the success of the book also makes me gulp and hold back a tear, because I know how close I was to giving up on my dream. And the best bit, with that project, my confidence grew and my life slowly changed. I like to think I played a part in the business growing 20 times bigger, and I now work as a full-time illustrator.
If ‘one hour a day’ led to my life completely changing, it can work for you too.
What’s that one thing you’ve been wanting to do with your life but you never quite have the time to do anything about it? You’ll know what it is because when you think about it you get a pulling feeling in your tummy, or it’ll keep you awake for hours.
Maybe it’s a book you want to write, or you want to get super fit and healthy? Maybe you want to learn a new language, train for a marathon or learn to play the bass guitar.
My message is this – Rise up! The world needs what you’ve got!
Good news… on October 29th the clocks go back – we literally gain an extra hour, so I challenge you to leave your clock set exactly as it is and use that additional hour to go make your dreams come true!
PS, I should also have mentioned that Brill Teenager was so successful (if you’d told the Amy 10 years ago she’d be typing this, she’d pass out on the floor) that we were asked to do an all-new 2023 Edition. It’s bigger, better and more lush than before. I’m grinning as I type these words because today is publication day! Woo-Hoo!