2019 Maker Report Card

One year ago, I made a video called Maker Resolutions for 2019, which said this:

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.

A growth mindset by itself is an important thing if you want to get better at anything, but equally important is doing a little self-reflection and self-evaluation. Today I’m going to grade each of those resolutions and see how 2019 stacked up.

10. Make it Science

This is inspired by the idea that Adam Savage popularized on Mythbusters, which is: “The difference between screwing around and science is writing it down”… I think my goal is going to be to write stuff down a lot more, take notes as I go, so that I am actually able to produce some additional content for the website and the YouTube channel.

I’ve done a lot more making notes this year and that means I have a better recollection of many of my projects. However, there are still some gaps. There are a few projects that I specifically whiffed on making good notes on that I’m now a little upset that I haven’t documented better. I also have a bad habit of not dating my notes, which is something I really need to get better at (and maybe design some tools to help with) in 2020.

Grade: B

9. Atoms, Not Bits

This year, I’m gonna take my hands off the keyboard a little bit more and try and focus in on using the computer as a tool to help whatever other project I’m doing, rather than so much time spent treating the computer as a place to create more stuff.

I think the balance of computer time to not-computer time in my making was pretty healthy in 2019. But there’s a downside to that as well. There were definitely times when I felt like a digital tool was the best way to accomplish a goal and would then feel kind of guilty about using that tool. And then there’s a ton of really exciting open-source creative software out there that I want to explore, and I can’t do that if I’m intentionally and mindfully trying to stay off the computer.

The main goal for staying off the computer for makes in 2019 was less to replace bits with atoms but to ensure balance. It was also to make myself more accessible to the kids, because working on the computer can be solitary and slow and boring. No kid really wants to watch someone else put together a design in Fusion 360, at least not without the benefit of editing. I think the goal for 2020 should continue to be balance between bits and atoms, but also to find ways to make making stuff on the computer into a more collective, collaborative, and shared experience.

Grade: B

8. Schedule the Things That Matter

If I don’t structure my time, then I go off in 50 different directions.

With the exception of National Novel Writing Month (which was a resounding success this year) I absolutely sucked at this. With a baby on the way I don’t know that this is a realistic resolution to re-adopt for 2020, but at the same time it might be the most critical one on the list.

Grade: C

7. Let Things Be What They Are

You know, sometimes a little experimentation piece can just be that. It doesn’t have to lead to anything else, I can just do something to learn something.

Did this. Made stuff. Didn’t need it to be part of some bigger scheme. Was unapologetic about it.

Grade: A+

6. Scope Small

In 2019, I want to scope small. I want to make little things.

I don’t know about “small,” but I definitely made an effort to scope things appropriately. This meant more completed projects and, I think, more overall learning.

Grade: A

5. Remember the KISS Rule

Keeping this particular train rolling, in order to scope things small and let them be what they are, I need to remember the KISS rule, which is… Keep It Simple, Stupid. Sometimes, just do one thing.

I managed this one pretty well. Unlike other years, in 2019 I don’t think I abandoned any project because of its complexity and that’s a rarity for me. I absolutely abandoned projects for other reasons, but not because they were overly complex or suffered scope creep. I think – relative to other years – I generally kept things pretty simple.

Grade: A

4. Remember, It’s Called Love Make Share

So doing all this other stuff will hopefully enable me to share more of what we do and what we’re up to so that you can learn from it yourselves.

And wow, did I ever not do this! I was okay about sharing project details over on Instagram but I did what, five YouTube videos in 2019? Maybe a dozen posts on the website? I think I need to re-evaluate what my definition of success is for sharing projects and essays, and what medium is best-suited to my #content. I love writing and these scripted videos slash blog posts are often the easiest things to make for multiple mediums, because – if I’m being entirely honest – I’m not very good at editing video and I don’t particularly enjoy doing it until the point where it really comes together. Scripting cuts down on how much editing I need to do, but it also isn’t necessarily the type of video that does best on the channel. 2020 will definitely be a year of prioritization and this merits more thought.

Grade: B-

3. Experimentation is Good

Experimentation is good. That’s it. Experimentation is good. I want to keep learning. To learn, I have to keep experimenting.

Boy did I try stuff this year. Mold-making, casting, electrical, sewing, diorama, 3D printing, interactive storytelling. There was no shortage of stuff to experiment with and I think I kept an open mind. Experimentation is still good, trying stuff is fun.

Grade: A+

2. Allow ‘Making’ Time Guilt-Free

That’s tough. As a parent, as someone with a full-time job, it’s tough to not feel guilty about wandering down to the shop.

This one is still tough a year later! I think I successfully eliminated the very specific kind of maker’s guilt I talked about in the original video, and I’ve addressed this theme in a few essays at lovemakeshare.ca. In dismissing the guilt about spending time making stuff I think I’ve managed to find a whole other angle to be hard on myself for. Namely, I’ve struggled with feeling like an adequately productive creative person. I think that 2020 is going to be about resolving that tension between what I want to make and what I reasonably can make.

Grade: C

1. Make Together

This seems obvious, and it’s a lot of what you see…

What wasn’t always obvious is that there was still a ton of making stuff solo, lots of prep and fiddling and tweaking and whatnot that wasn’t as together as it could have been.

I enlisted the kids to help grade this one. I got two grades, a B+ and a B-, respectively. On the plus side, we worked on a bunch of stuff together. On the minus side, there weren’t as many projects that we started together, worked on all the way through, and then finished together. I think that start-to-finish participation will be a goal in 2020.

Grade: On average, B

And that’s 2019 wrapped up! How was your 2019? Did you make the things you wanted to make and learn the things you wanted to learn? I would love to hear about your year in making stuff, what challenges you had and how you overcame them. Also what’s on your workbench for 2020?

I also want to thank everyone who has been subscribing to the YouTube channel despite the slow output. I hope you find it rewarding and inspiring when we do upload a new video and I am very grateful for your time and conversation.

Quick housekeeping note here as well while I’m saying thank-yous – Love Make Share has been supported for some time by Alternative Hosting, a Canadian cloud company offering domain name services, hosting, cloud consulting and more. It’s helmed by a husband and wife team, Amy and Gregory, who go out of their way to support local artists and makers and I’m very, very grateful for their ongoing support. Love Make Share is hosted by Alternative Hosting and if you’re looking to host a site I encourage you to check them out via the affiliate link above or right here.

If you want to follow along with our projects in realtime and get more of our stuff you can follow along on Instagram at @lovemakeshare or go to subscribe to get email post notifications via the sidebar.

Happy New Year, and as always, I hope you’ve been inspired. Now – go make something!

Trevor

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