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All Over The Map

'Why not just try it' - The Making of Howard.

I once read that overthinking is the art of creating problems that weren’t even there.

‘Why not just try it’ has been my answer to nearly every thought which has crept towards overthinking since February 2017. Apart from olives and anchovies, there’s no overthinking involved they are horrible and I’m not going near either of them.

For the longest time overthinking was something I’d get bogged down in for every creative decision that I would have. I rarely ‘switch off’ and feel almost uncomfortable if I’m not doing something engaging. My head is overflowing with ideas like rush hour traffic and trying to pick the ‘right’ one to run with and share often leads to overthinking (even when I was writing this I close to overthinking it).

Whether that is in the form of a joke, a Facebook status or even an idea for a sketch I wanted to film. Slowly my mind would lead me by the hand and creep towards the barren plains of overanalysing ‘is it funny enough? Will people like it? Am I wasting my time doing it? Maybe it’s better if I do next year?’. Then before I know it I’ve sat in front of a blank word document for two hours having lost all the momentum from the initial spark of the idea that now lies lifeless somewhere in the back of my head.

This was a regular occurrence for me until I started to answer that voice of overthinking with ‘why not just try it’, and a lot has changed for the better as a result of that answer. My output of material last year doubled as I wrote more stand up routines, scripts for sketches and submissions for festivals than ever before. It was in April 2017 when the idea for ‘Howard’ first came to fruition after I first met Rico Bam, now a good friend of mine, who directed ‘Howard’ and introduced me to a fantastic team of people who helped me turn it into a five-part web series which collectively received close to 35,000 hits.

Two things: One, 35,000 hits is a huge number. However, prior to ‘why not just try it’, I wouldn’t have even attempted to execute ‘Howard’ without falling victim to overthinking and the idea getting lost.

Two, I never looked at ‘Howard’ as the finished article which caused a domino effect and all the doors I’ve been knocking at and all the doors I didn’t even know existed would just ‘open sesame’ and before I know it I’m all over the TV. It was a writing exercise and an opportunity to experiment; I was proud of what we produced and that we’d done it on our terms.

‘Howard’ as project dominated my workload and engaged a lot of creative thought from different angles for 12 months. There were a lot of meetings with Rico, which went late into the night (mainly because we both had day jobs). I even think my flatmates at the time were beginning wonder what I was doing as Rico was around so much often till the small hours of the morning. Then my girlfriend Poppy would be visiting on the weekends. They must have thought ‘how are we gonna break to Poppy that Harry is cheating on her with a man in his 40’s?’.

Rico grew an original crew of five from the first episode ‘First Impression’ tremendously as the story of ‘Howard’ continued. We didn’t have any money to pay people for their time; they got involved purely on basis of their passion and belief in what we were doing (passion would only go so far, so we’d always provide a hot buffet and I ticked acting as a dinner lady off the bucket list). There was an unspoken agreement and shared mindset of ‘why not just try it’ amongst everyone who worked on Howard and that’s a really cool thing to have, and it turned out to also often be my response when the crew saw what was on offer for dinner.

Right now with the number of platforms available through social media to showcase work, it seems almost daft not to at least try things. There is a huge amount of room for experimentation and with that comes opportunity. I mentioned before about ‘doing it on our terms’ that’s something I frequently remind myself for everything I do. What it means is that regardless of the outcome to take that initial idea, develop it into something and then share it. You’ve done something most people avoid and have taken a risk.

On some level, ‘Howard’ was a risk though what was gained from taking that risk far outweighed never attempting it. I've always believed in trying things and the fear of failure has never bothered me, working in an office job and wearing a lanyard for the rest my life is what bothers me. I’ve already got the ball rolling on more risks to be taken in 2019, but that’s all I can say on that for now (I’m even joking I don’t want to risk ruining it).

Overthinking doesn’t allow risk-taking, growth or failure. Marcus Tullius Cicero once said ‘more is lost by indecision than wrong decision’. So I say to anyone who’s reading this and wondering ‘Is it worth trying’. ‘Why not just try it’ there’s more to be gained than lost unless it’s heroin.

Check out 'Howard' Ep1 - First Impressions

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