Lessons in Doing Things Right

by Zoe Rooney of A Quick Study


lessons in doing things right, zoe rooney, a quick study

The words above were ingrained into my mind early on from various family matriarchs. I’ve found them immensely helpful to hold on to as I’ve moved through various stages of life – whenever I’m tempted to do something part way, they spring to mind as a warning.

If I do it the way I’m considering, am I just going to have to do it again later?

This question is a scary one in the world of building a business because it’s a bit unbalanced. Obviously there’s only so much you can do at any one time and for many of us, our perfectionist natures can become overwhelming – we want to do it all and we want it to be exactly right. Our minds tell us lies:

If I don’t get it exactly right, I’ll definitely have to do again later.

I think the lesson I’ve learned about “doing it right” gets at what’s tricky about this balance and it’s all in that word “again.” Bear with me – I’m about to go a little word-nerd on you but I promise it’ll be worth it!

lessons in doing things right, zoe rooney, a quick study

This (woefully off-kilter, sorry) image is from the dictionary that sits above my desk. Let’s focus on the second and fourth definitions:

2. another time : once more : ANEW

4. in addition : besides <~, there is another matter to consider>

My mental voice is using definition 2 – it’s warning me that if I can’t take time to do something right, I better know that I’ll be spending time doing it anew. Doing it over. Repeating the work I’ve already done, and then some.

But I’ve learned that right is not the same as finished and perfect, forever and evermore. I can do something right and still know that I’ll need to take time later to do more again – more in addition, more besides. I’ll add to what I’ve done, refresh it, improve on it, and strengthen it. When this kind of “again” is purposeful, intentional, mindful, it’s actually the best possible way to approach your work.

That doesn’t mean you forget the original warning – any work you do should be right enough that you won’t need to do it anew, because that’s just wasting time. But your work can be right for now, right enough that you can build on it and grow from it.

That’s what Jessika’s getting right about this community, the community she’s grown dramatically over the last year. She’s doing it right, but she’s not waiting and worrying about doing it imperfectly. She’s using the fourth definition of again – each step is an “again” that adds to the whole.

That’s what our wider handmade community is learning to do (slowly, and with many stumbles) through our conversations about telling our stories, about valuing ourselves and our work. We’re learning how to do this handmade business thing right through building community and offering support and experimenting with pricing through sites like Heartsy and Worthsy. Let’s keep at it together – let’s get to a place where more often than not we’re not starting anew again and again, but rather building on strong foundations we’ve already laid through real collaboration and community.

I can’t wait to see where this community takes us in another year.


  1. je says:

    Thank you for an other wisedom lesson.
    I think like you does aswell, it’s always good to share with others and suporting our other crafters.
    i saw lately a great tip somewhere about a well known recipy of paste flour for papermache, i have made my own as well , and i had to use it lately so i thought i must tryed it out and share it with the others.
    and found more tricks out during the procedure , you’re right about that be critical and try out more and the sharing.
    Because it all helps to goin to improve ourselfs.XD
    but sometimes i get bored of all the same craftings of others and without nothing new.
    that’s the other side of the internet , you see too much so too less is new, –S
    so… i think it’s alll about being critical on how to spend your surfing time on the internet as well.
    hey have a nice day and thank you for your intersting article !!!!!! really loved it;-D (i’m a member of cutoutandkeep.net)

  2. Jessika says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this post this week-it’s been running around in the back of my head for days. Thank you for this! Again is so not failure, again is learning. Again is LIFE!

    I think life should be about the learning not having the answers. Who cares how many times you stumble if you can get back up again with more knowledge about how you fell. You really reached inside my head and my life with this post-I have two quotes that I have written in journals going back to when I was 15. The first is Plato-“wisest is she who knows she does not know” which pretty much encompasses my view of life. I know that I don’t know and so am open to learning, growing as I learn how much more I don’t know; )

    The second is a piece of a poem from one of my mom’s poetry books by Robin Morgan, my favorite piece of writing that resonates with my heart and my love for handmade:

    Frugality is not the point. Nor waste.
    It’s just that very little is discarded in any honest spending of the self,
    and what remains is used and used again,
    worn thin by use,
    softened to the pliancy and the translucence of old linen, patched, mended, reinforced and saved.

    And so I discover how
    I am rejoicing slowly into a woman
    who grows older daring to write
    the same poem over and over,
    not merely rearranged, revised, reworded,
    but one poem
    hundreds of times anew.

    Cheers to again Zoe-and again and again and again. Each step leading us towards the whole and yet another again!

  3. Love it, Jess! I think moving to the “better again” place requires some growing up and learning, though. When I was a teenager, it was definitely the “anew” kind of again – you have to care enough to do things as best you can the first time.

    I love the Plato quote – although I am not a 12-stepper, nor particularly religious, I also live by the Serenity Prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

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