Happy New Year! It’s the beginning of 2019! And that means it’s a great time to talk about what we’re going to get up to in the year ahead. It’s a good time to think about what worked and what didn’t from last year and what I want to do going forward. With that in mind, I’ve come up with 10 maker resolutions for 2019 that I think will help me be more productive, do more of the things I like, get away from some of the stuff that hasn’t been working for me, and generally make me less crazy about my various projects and makes.
Watch the video, or read on for more!
10. Make it Science
This is based on the idea that Adam Savage popularized on Mythbusters which is “the difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.” Often, I’ll find myself in the shop, I’ll shoot a bit of video, and by the time I get around to editing it I’ll have forgotten about what I did and what I learned. This year, I’m planning on making notes far more while I work (likely in my newly-beloved Leuchtturm), so that I’m more easily able to produce content for the website and the YouTube channel. I can learn stuff about making stuff all I want, but if I don’t have good notes, I’m not well-equipped to help anyone else. And that, my friends, defeats the purpose of the whole endeavour.
9. Atoms, Not Bits
I tend to get distracted with computer stuff. Whether that’s the idea of learning Unity or learning more about RPG Maker or any of the other digital wild geese I’ve chased over the years, not a lot of that stuff gives me immediate results, and very little of it brings me a lot of pleasure the way just simply writing or working with my hands does.
This year, I’m going to take my hands off the keyboard a little bit more and focus on using the computer as a tool to help accomplish whatever else it is I’m doing, rather than invest so much time in treating the computer as a place to make more stuff.
That isn’t to say that there is any less merit to making art or whatever digitally instead of practically. And obviously I’m still going to be using computers. It just means that I’m going to try to keep the computer in service to my projects, rather than be its own distraction.
8. Schedule the Things That Matter
Turns out that if I don’t structure my time, I go off in fifty different directions. I have my novel that’s approaching the end of its second draft – I want to finish it, and that means purposefully carving out time dedicated to it. I have some ongoing stuff with the kids that I need to dedicate regular time to.
To be positive about it, this year I want to set aside the time for the things I’m interested in, rather than just slotting them in between other distractions.
7. Let Things Be What They Are
Sometimes a little experimental piece can just be that. It doesn’t have to lead to something else. It can just be in service of learning something. In fact, some of the more popular videos on the YouTube channel are us just trying things out (like when we made our own DIY Chameleon Pens, or when we made an artist’s lightbox from scratch and it only kind of succeeded). Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but we put it up so that hopefully someone else can learn something from it.
This is a really important lesson I need to take to heart. Not only are these the things that I and the kids often find most personally rewarding, but they’re the things that our audience enjoys the most.
This also relates to the medium or the level of execution. Maybe a series of videos is a one-off blog post. Maybe a short film script doesn’t need to become a short film, maybe it’s just a great writing exercise and something to bank for later.
Letting things be what they are is something I’m going to try to do a lot more in 2019.
6. Scope Small
This is the smallest of my resolutions:
I want to make more little things.
I want to make something in an afternoon or a weekend, rather than have them be ongoing forever.
I should know better. I’m a teacher by trade. The idea of chunking things into smaller pieces to make them more manageable should be a natural thing for me to do. But it doesn’t happen. Things take on a life of their own. They get big, and unwieldy.
In 2019, I want to see us take on more bite-sized makes that we start and end and share.
5. Remember the KISS Rule
This is that old chestnut – Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Sometimes, just do the one thing. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be big. It can be experimental. It can be small. It can be simple.
This stacks neatly on the last couple of resolutions.
4. Remember, It’s Called Love Make Share
My other resolutions should enable me to share more of our projects and experiences with the world.
There have been really cool conversations happening in YouTube comments, Instagram threads, and in messages on Facebook. People are talking in the comments, getting updates, feedback, and checking in.
It’s been so gratifying feeling that people are learning from what we do, and I’m psyched to see more of that in 2019. But it means that we’re going to have to be more diligent about sharing.
3. Experimentation is Good
That’s it. Experimentation is good.
I want to keep learning. To keep learning, I need to keep experimenting. The kids are great at this. They’re naturals at it. I’m going to follow their lead.
So let’s keep experimenting in 2019. Keep experimenting. Keep moving forward.
2. Allow ‘Making’ Time Guilt-Free
This one’s tough.
As a parent, as a partner, as someone with a full-time job, as someone who is trying to find ways to get more involved in the community and spend more time with friends and exercise more in 2019, it’s tough not to feel guilty about wandering down to the shop. Or about spending time on something that won’t necessarily lead to something else.
This wasn’t something I was really aware that I carried before I read Michael Kwan’s recent blog post, Earning Me Time Without Guilt, which spoke to me in a way I wasn’t quite prepared for. Michael talks about his strategy for “earning” his “me time,” which I don’t think quite works for me but I think my next maker resolution will.
1. Make Together
That seems pretty obvious, and it’s a lot of what readers and viewers see. But what you don’t see (and I stumble around this a bit in the video) is that any of our makes generally involve a fair bit of solo time tinkering with tools or research or whatever, and we don’t do a good enough job of documenting the smaller crafts and things we do.
I also noticed a bit of a trend in 2018 where I was spending more time wandering off and using making time as me time rather than together time.
Not only does this defeat the purpose and the ethos of Love Make Share, exploring how the things we create can create bonds between us, but it’s also not nearly as much fun.
My kids are the coolest little people in the world. My wife is an incredible partner with her own streak of creative awesomeness (even if she resists admitting it sometimes). And I want to do everything I can to have our making time this year be in service of making things together.
I hope that in 2019 “making together” includes you. I’ve really appreciated the comments, the reaching out for help. It’s so cool seeing that some of the things we’ve done have led to projects for you. I really hope to continue that this year.
Do you have resolutions related to making stuff in 2019?
It’s 2019. It’s a new year.
And as always, folks, paddle your own canoe.