Thoughts on making

I’ve been journaling a lot lately, and using some ideas from Lynda Barry’s book Syllabus about how drawing and doing a daily diary can make you a better writer. Which is a bit of an amazing way for me to think about both writing and drawing. Part of the goal is to wake me up to the world around me, get me noticing what’s around me and happening, so that I can then use that to think about writing and what I want to write about.

The side effect of this has gotten me thinking about my life as a whole. I wouldn’t say that I’m in a mid life crisis or anything, I don’t want to make any drastic changes, but it has me evaluating what I truly care about right now. This fluctuates and changes over time, but it’s always good for me to be aware of my motivations because they propel how I spend my time.

I should be clear here, I still love the web and many things about it. I’m not leaving it, I probably will always be here in some way. But I am thinking a lot about my life and how I’m living it these days. In some ways I think that’s a direct result of what’s going on in the world.

Lately, I’m super motivated to learn more about art and design not from the commercial angle, such as what I’m around most days in my work on the web, but I’m keenly interested in how people make things for themselves. Maybe that translates into a living for them and maybe it doesn’t—that’s not something I’m focusing on. I’m tired of the idea of talking about manipulating emotions or gaining empathy with people to sell a thing, a thing that people may not even need, which is what I see so often in the commercial design world.

So in the last year I’ve spent time reading and I’ve spent time at conferences and events that speak to these topics. And these are the things rattling around in my head that I’m thinking about a lot these days.

  1. How does making a thing, whether it’s ever seen by someone else, change me? What does it do for me? And why do I feel, especially over the past two years, the need to do it every day?
  2. If I didn’t have to work a job to make money, what would I do with my time? Would I still work on the web?
  3. Does making the thing digital change it? If so, how? Is my enjoyment of drawing right now tied to the fact that it’s very low tech in contrast with how I earn my living?
  4. Is it possible to stay true to yourself even when what you are passionate about isn’t how you are able to spend the majority of your time?

I don’t have many answers yet. Truth be told, it’s taken me a few months to articulate what it is I’ve been thinking about. I’ve spent a lot of time reading stories of people who make; I’m keenly interested in the process of others. And I’m continuing to read and think. Maybe I’ll get answers soon and maybe I won’t, but I’m enjoying my process and maybe that’s all that matters.