Usually, asking how to get started via email is ineffective. This is especially true for those email messages that pretty much amount to someone saying “I’m stuck and need help.”
There are cases, though, where a well-stated email can help you get started, and it all depends on whether you’re asking a question that specifically addresses what you’re having problems with. For instance, if you’re really stuck on a problem, you could email someone to explain the problem and ask them for possible solutions to that problem.
The reason this works, though, has little to do with the person on the other end and has everything to do with the fact that it makes you get real with what the problem is before you articulate it. What you’ll usually find out is one of two things: 1) the problem has an easier fix once you define it or 2) the problem is not the problem – the problem is you.
If you find yourself in situation 1, fix the problem and don’t send the email. Pass go, collect $200, and keep creating.
Situation 2 is much different, and I hate to say that I can’t, in general, give you much help. If you need some reassurance, send it to that person that gives you reassurance (and constructive feedback). If you need a swift kick in the ass – which, let’s be honest, we all need sometimes – send it to that person who kicks almost as hard as they hug. If you don’t have either one of those types of people already, send it to me at charlie AT ProductiveFlourishing DOT Com and let me know which you need; I’m good at both. (Seriously, send it.)
There is a third situation, though, that occurs when it comes to elements of style. If you’re wondering whether you’ve set a typeface at the right size or used the right dialog box or color or phrase, that may be something that an email will help with. But note that you’re not asking “how do I start?” – you’re asking “which of these options are better for what I have in mind?” People can help you with that quickly and usually they’re there just helping you decide something that may not matter much in the end.
Although I’ve written this post referencing email correspondence, it’s really not about email correspondence: it’s about learning how to ask for help. Learning to ask for help is a huge step in personal growth – it takes a lot of courage to do and far more of your heroes get help more often than you’d think. However, learning how to ask for help can be just as critical. Help us help you.
Thanks and Well-Wishes To:
- TheGirlPie for her second gracious donation of $8. We didn’t go to the movies – bad season and all – but shared a banana split instead.
- Suzanne for her wonderful donation of $10. I’m glad whatever small part I’ve done has helped you get your projects moving.
- April for her wonderful donation of $5. Believe it or not, I am working on the planners – I’m just really behind. I fully get the irony of being behind on aid that helps people stay on the ball.