On the Importance of Making Things

May 23 2013

I am a procrastinator. True to style, I've left this to last minute (won't be pulling an all-nighter for the Listserve, so this has to be sent off before bed-time, no exceptions) and haven't spent much time on what to talk about, or why I should.

It's going to be easiest if I pick something fresh in my head. And since I procrastinated to get here... procrastination it is. Yesterday I had an argument (neither of us angry, so maybe 'argument' isn't the right word) with my partner-in-crime, about my lack of follow-through on things that interest me. He thinks I could do more with the things I know, and he hates seeing me do things he sees as a waste of time. I think he's got a point, but I also partially disagree.

There are a lot of things I like. I love to learn, even if that learning never goes further than being useful when it's pub trivia night. I put into practice some of the things I've learned, but most of it just sits there in my head.

His point (I think) is that I should put my interests into practice more, because I have it all there so I shouldn't waste it. Make stuff, write things, become better at things that are right now more like abstract interests than actual skills, so I can make more things.

It is disheartening to think about how little I give back to the people who've taught me things. The internet is perfect for people like me: I can learn whatever I want, because other people have done the work to put it out there. I wonder how many people actually contribute actively to the internet, excluding Facebook and blogging. Surely there's not all that many people, proportionately, creating and contributing to the giant crazy online world the rest of us get to enjoy. More watchers than makers. Perhaps it's always been that way.

Back to the argument ('discussion'?). He's a consummate maker, and it suits him. I don't know many people who DO as much creatively as he does. I'm not sure I'll ever keep up, and I think that's ok. With that said, I definitely should do less of the putting-stuff-off, and more of the 'doing'. But I'd like to extend his definition of 'making stuff that's worthwhile' beyond just unique creations. I reckon it should also count if you can plan a great party, or have a well-kept garden, or can name all the moons of Jupiter. The things I like to read about feed into making me myself, which feeds through into everything else I do.

What do you think? How much do you 'output'? Is it enough to just learn? I'd like to know what you think, even if it's that I'm being wanky and dull and should stop rambling. Which I'll do now, in any case. Thanks for listening!

Melbourne, Australia
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