Make, Show, Learn Issue 6

“I’m gonna try something” — Captain Jimmy Wilder

Being mindful of word count worked well last week. Each week, one section goes on much longer than the others.

I’m getting close to abandoning the single-post-each-week format. It often ends up being a hodgepodge of ideas baked to different temperatures. It makes sense to separate some things into their own post. Particularly when it’s about a single book.

A close friend called me on FaceTime earlier this week. I haven’t seen him in a few months. After talking about things that actually mattered, I mentioned that I started drawing. I showed him some of the work things from the last month.

It was good to see some improvement. There are still times when I wonder if this is something to pursue long-term. In the past, I could see myself saying, “Nope! Must not be passionate enough.”

This time, though, I remind myself of the end I have in mind. A year from now I’ll have 40 weekly posts with illustrations and writing. Issue #4 was better than issue #1. Issue #40 will be better than issue #4.

It won’t be fun every single time. It will be worth it every single time.

I had a plan this week. On Monday, I made five separate files (one for each section of the post) in iA Writer. I was going to fill them in, add drawings as I went along, then have a post ready to go. I pull the posts together on the weekend. By Friday, I had five sections filled in, but only one that I liked.

Something else I had was more ideas. I tossed my plan out along  with a few of the sections. I’m separating the one that I liked into a separate post.

I’ll have a varying amount of time to work on each weekly post. I’ll need a system for moving the extra time into weeks where I have no time at all. This upcoming holiday week will be my first test.

I’ve been brainstorming in Notability. It’s one of my favorite things to do. There’s a template I’ve been using that’s a vertical storyboard. Actually, here’s what it looks like:

I’ve been trying to write down the text side and then sketch things out on the left side after that. Here’s a look at some other pages I’ve done.

I wanted to try presenting things like that in a post. On Saturday, I tried things out in HTML/CSS and then converted it to WordPress. Actually, let me do a quick demo.

Images on the left. Text on the right. (One column on mobile.)
I didn’t say it was going to be mindblowing or anything.

In hindsight, I’m frustrated with how long it took to figure this out. The solution was more straightforward than I thought. Sometime in the next few months I need to sit down and learn WordPress.

Doodle from last week’s post
Last week I wrote a description of Joe Rogan talking about motivation always fading with time. The sketches were each done on a five minute timer. Before that, they were even rougher. I scribbled them down the side of one of the storyboard pages in Notability.

The voice in my head is an asshole
Dan Harris says that was one of the working titles for his book, 10% Happier (check out my book notes). It came to mind while reading The Creative’s Curse (blurb below). We say so many things to ourselves that stop us from being creative.

Anyway, that’s the end of the demo. It won’t be the last time you see it. I’ll also keep thinking of other layouts.

What I’m reading: A peek into the echo chamber

Remember, ‘stalagmite’ has a g in it so it’s on the ground. Note to self: use a different color for cave next time.

Last week a lot of us became a little more aware of the echo chambers we’re in. Over the past year I noticed that authors I liked were showing up on a bunch of podcasts I listen to. I’ve made an effort to consume media from more perspectives.

This week’s reading was not the best example of that effort. (Neither is my podcast rotation that’s basically only Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, Bill Simmons’s friends, or TADPOG.)

The Creative’s Curse by Todd Brison
I enjoyed The Creative’s Curse. You can get a sense of what the book will be like by reading Brison’s latest blog posts.

I’m guessing people read The War of Art and realize it’s like a collection of blog posts. Steven Pressfield says his nonfiction started as a bunch of separate essays in Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.

People with their own collection of blog posts eventually try putting something similar together. The Creative’s Curse reminds me of those books, but it’s a hell of a lot better than other self-published eBooks I’ve read.

How to Write Funny by Scott Dikkers
Dikkers was a founding editor of The Onion. At the beginning of the book, he talks about writing about writing comedy.

A lot of people who write books about how to write humor feel a pressure to make the book funny.

The book captures someone very good at comedy trying not to be funny. It’s the exact inverse of my blog.

The One Thing by Gary Keller
I read this a couple years ago. I got the audiobook after hearing it recommended by Charles Poliquin on the Tim Ferriss Show.

For a few months I was using a couple templates from the book to plan my weeks. You take different areas in your life and figure out the one thing that’s most important in that area. Then plan your week to focus on those few things.

It becomes two things: 1.) the most important long term goal and 2.) the immediate task you can do to move toward it.

The challenge is picking both of those. (Check out my post on Angela Duckworth’s Grit to see her exercise for picking top-level and mid-level goals.)

The Systems Mindset by Sam Carpenter (Free eBook)
Last week I wrote about The Checklist Manifesto. The stories were great but it didn’t quite get down to making the checklists. The Systems Mindset does a great job complementing that book.

Carpenter explains that the first step is recognizing that systems are everywhere (that earth/ramen photo from earlier is supposed to be earth with clock internals). There’s an example of the system we have for drying towels. It’s automatic. You don’t ever think about it. You hang it up and never think about it.

When you recognize the systems then you can pick them out and improve the ones that aren’t working. You can then design systems for problems you run into.

What I’m drawing

Instead of commenting on drawings inline, I’ll try separating them into a different section and this section will go at the end. I want to be thoughtful about what I’m drawing each week. That way I’ll have a better way to see progress.

Vince Carter
This is a drawing for next week’s post (though I thought I was going to post it this week).

I took a screenshot of this to get the grid around it. I don’t know how much this is considering cheating and if it’s going to hurt or help my learning.

Even with the grid right in front of me, I needed to remind myself to just trust the grid. Some things didn’t seem right, like his leg seemed like it was too long or the shape of his left calf looked odd. Once it was all together, though, it was alright.

That’s a lesson in trusting what I see and not what I think I see.

The only problem with my drawing of Vince Carter is that it doesn’t look like Vince Carter. I can’t get his face right.

Vince Carter, pt II
I haven’t been coloring things in like I was the first couple weeks. It’s fun. When drawing, there’s a lot of thinking. When inking and coloring I can just go without thinking. I’m using those terms very very loosely because I know what I’m doing is a naive version of the actual inking or coloring process.

No thinking while inking. I can see why adult coloring books are a thing.

See you in a week! In the meantime I’ll be working on fixing his face. While we’re at it, let me color another one.