Once you learn how to make something–a pot, a story, a song, a video game–it changes how you see things forever. Once you write a story, you hear pieces of dialogue in conversations, plot lines while walking down a busy street.
Making something allows you to fail while learning, build something better, and not be at the mercy of a boss who doesn’t understand you and work you never liked.
When I worked in advertising agencies, I learned how to set type. This is a skill no one needs anymore because computers do it. Although it has been decades since I spec’d type, I have a deep appreciation for typefaces, their subtle differences, and the shape of letters. Still. It makes a difference on my taste, my judgment and my idea of what matters. Just because I learned that skill.
A few days ago, I signed up for a drawing class. I have to draw in ink. I hate it. I want to go back to drawing in pencil. In my homework, I thought about drawing in pencil, then going over it in ink. But what would that teach me? I signed up to learn something new, something hard.
It’s hard to follow the rules. But that’s the point of learning. How I drew before taught me something, this method will teach me something else. My eyes don’t lie, but my brain does. “What do you need this class for?” “Draw the way YOU want.” “You don’t need someone to force their way on you.” That’s my brain, trying to get me to go back to what I know instead of stumbling along in something I don’t.
I won’t learn a thing by looking at someone else’s artwork and judging it. I need to try and fail drawing with ink, try and succeed, learn what works and what doesn’t. When I practice, I learn something. Something about drawing. Something about myself. Something about the creative process that my clients struggle through.
My coaching clients do important work. I cannot allow myself to do less.
—Quinn McDonald is struggling in a drawing class to be a better coach.