Since 2014, I’ve spent untold hours on each of 13 iOS app side projects. Three of them made it into the App Store. Not because Apple rejected the others, but because my enthusiasm for them fell away. I even stopped work on the project I consider to have been most successful, which accrued just over 2.5K users.
I don’t consider the time wasted. I’ve learned a lot.
The first App Store initiate was written in Ruby using RubyMotion. The second was written in Swift with an Elixir backend service, then rewritten in React Native with a Rails backend service. The third was written using React Native.
I insisted on avoiding state management dependencies in my first several React Native apps and so I learned all about prop drilling. In subsequent apps, I spent substantial time learning and using React Redux, MobX, Redux-Saga, and Contexts. I’ve watched a boat load of conference talks and spent real dollars subscribing to and supporting fantastic screencast creators (give egghead.io a look).
I’ve spent time learning how to create better splash screens and app icons in Sketch which is clearly represented in the progression of app icons that my App Store Connect dashboard shows me. I’m really awful at these bits, but I’m definitely getting better.
Intimacy with these tools begs hours of effort. Enthusiasm for each project’s potential (however delusional it may be) is my motivation for spending those hours. Though none of these projects have earned me wealth or fame, I believe the time’s been well spent.
I’m working on another one. It’s gonna be great. 🤯
I recommend spending the time to take your own moonshots. Even if one ambitious idea loses steam because another must have your attention, there are byproducts to your effort: You learned stuff. And if you’re doing it right, you’ll have fun too. Just don’t force it. Being a tyrant to yourself isn’t sustainable.
Here’s the final chapter of my favorite book, Rework:
Inspiration is perishable
We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever.
What doesn’t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: It has an expiration date.
If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now. You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can’t just say you’ll do it later. Later, you won’t be pumped up about it anymore.
If you’re inspired on a Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty-four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way.
Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.