True You: On Being a Maker

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Chances are if you are reading this you are a maker.  Perhaps you make photographs… orstationery.  Maybe you are a quilter or your thrill is driven by making food.  Whatever it is (and it is quite possibly many things) there is something about you that compels you to create.

Makers are a strange breed and sometimes misunderstood.  They are often distracted by the tiniest opportunity to make something else.  You may find them staring as if they’ve just gone catatonic.  They’re still there.  They’re just making... only in their mind. Makers routinely see things and instead of thinking, “Oh, cool!” they think “How can I make that?”

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Those of us who are true makers make for the joy of making. Over the past few years I have made and shared many things here from roman shades to unbirthday cake, laundry care lists to classic lasagna.  Truth be told, I made way more than you see among these pages, but some stuff didn’t turn out so bueno.  Being a maker doesn’t mean you’ll always get it right.

I suppose there are varying degrees of “maker-ness”.  I happen to be on the nuttier side of the spectrum, believing that I can do just about anything.  Sometimes that’s good; sometimes not.  However, I would be willing to bet that many more of you would be on my end of the seesaw if you had the chance... if you weren’t weighed down with all the stuff that keeps you from unleashing your inner maker.  So to that end, I offer you...

Rules for unleashing your inner maker:

  1. Be BOLD! Think BIG!
  2. Be courageous, but not fearless.
  3. Make mistakes.
  4. Learn stuff! 
  5. Get inspired!
  6. Record every little idea.

Be BOLD! Think BIG! Think of something you want to make.  Now, add something to make it even better.  Add a little more.  Think of what would take it to the point that it is SO awesome that some people might find it a bit too awesome and turn away. You’re almost done... take a half step backwards. Stop! Make that. I know it’s hard sometimes because you want to put your great idea in motion, but take the time to stop and really think through the process and desired outcome.

Be courageous, but not fearless. These two things are not synonymous.  Fear can be good.  It’s what keeps us from putting our hand on the hot burner or doing something stupid to land ourselves in OZ.  Being courageous means you might be a little fearful (perhaps worried that others won’t love your work) but carrying on despite it.  Being courageous means you know that your idea may be difficult to execute or it may be rejected, but the pain of not doing it exceeds the fear of doing it and you persevere.

Make mistakes. I cannot stress this enough.  I make MUCHO mistakes.  Fortunately, lots of them are delicious mistakes so that’s still kind of a win.  Nonetheless, the mistakes slow us down, take wind out of our sails, etc.  That’s ok for about a minute, but then it’s time to set your feet straight and begin again. The world is full of great ideas that were actually accidents. Ivory, the soap that floats?... big blunder turned marketing wonder. Just get out there and try things... and fail... and try again.  You only truly fail if you never try.

Learn stuff! I began Today’s Nest with a fair amount of knowledge based on my experiences and education, but I can’t tell you how much I have learned myself over the past 3 years.  If there is something you want to tackle, take a class, search it on YouTube, or read a book.  There is far too much information at our fingertips in this new digital world to ever stop learning.

Get inspired! The web is overflowing (if that’s possible) with ideas for inspiration.  Be careful not to fall into the “trendy trap”.  Just because Pinterest is bursting at the seams with ‘food in jars’ doesn’t mean you have to take that path.  Think beyond what you see and strictly use it to propel your ideas forward.  Also, consider a visit to the library to look through some old books.  Sometimes the best ideas are new takes on old concepts.

Record every little idea. I keep a small notebook with me nearly every second of the day.  It is full of notes, sketches, reminders, websites to visit, and so on.  You may like this method or maybe you want to go more digital by keeping a gallery of ideas on your smartphone.  The point is record it all.  Make notes and then revisit them later.  You would be amazed at how many projects I do that are spawned from ideas I had years ago.

Whether you make for yourself or someone else, there is real satisfaction in turning an idea into something.  So go make! Create clothes, or a song, or a video, or some hip earrings that you conjured in your mind... or cupcakes! You can’t go wrong with cupcakes.  And share with us!  Show or tell us what you make. Send us your photos, your songs, your videos, your poems.  You can send it in the comments, send us an email, or share it on our Facebook page.

A word of caution: There’s little that can be done to stop a maker.  Once you unleash the monster there is no turning back.