50 Things I Know About Making Stuff

1. Creativity is a self-replenishing resource. The more you use, the more you get back.

2. Buy the best tools you can afford.

3. The best ideas sometimes come from doing nothing. Do nothing often.

4. A good teacher can save you years of trouble.

5. Revision is not part of the process. It is the process.

6. Limitations force the brain to think in new ways.

7. Creativity is illuminating the darkness. That’s why it’s both challenging and terrifying: you never know what you’re going to find down there.

8. Covet time alone.

9. You know you’re near the end when changes start to make the project worse, not better.

10. Any work that is powerful or deeply personal will elicit strong feelings of praise and denunciation.

11. It takes enormous effort to push past mediocrity.

12. You can only be influenced by what you absorb.

13. Epiphanies are fragile. Write them down immediately.

14. Everyone struggles, just like you.

15. All large projects have the potential to spin out of control. That’s their risk and beauty.

16. So much comes down to taste, and some people will simply not like yours, no matter how good you are.

17. Never plead your case with a professional critic, especially on the internet.

18. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

19. Having enough time is the greatest gift.

20. The better you get, the more mysterious your process becomes.

21. Help students whenever you can.

22. Small communities of encouraging colleagues and co-workers don’t exist forever. Enjoy them while they last.

23. Inspiration is nice, but grit will see you through.

24. Someone once said that a good day is time spent using your talents.

25. Work without regard for recognition.

26. No one will care more than you.

27. Projects you do for yourself are research for the projects you do for others.

28. There will be no perfect time. Work a little every day.

29. If you make pictures, it’s work. If you make movies, it’s work. If you play music, it’s work. Being creative is work.

30. Be kind. Also, people talk.

31. A professional keeps working, no matter what the situation.

32. You should feel vulnerable and exposed.

33. When overwhelmed, make lists.

34. The more you learn your craft, the more you realize how much more you have left to learn.

35. Finishing is always the hard part.

36. Feedback is not a referedum on your self-worth.

37. Sometimes walking away for a day or a week or a month is the most productive thing you can do.

38. Today’s best-that-you-can-do is tomorrow’s what was I thinking?

39. Being fast is overrated.

40. There’s always going to be someone better than you.

41. Some projects feel like fine German machinery; others could use another roll of duct tape.

42. Believe people when they tell you what doesn’t work. Be skeptical when they tell you how to fix it.

43. The only way to make really good work is to care a lot every step of the way.

44. Anyone who is good at what they do was once a beginner.

45. Projects always take longer than expected.

46. Work with talented people who know things you don’t. Let them do their jobs.

47. What matters most is not your “originality” but the authenticity of your voice.

48. Don’t believe your thoughts. Just do your work.

49. In the end, all stories are about families.

50. Every day is a new opportunity to make something special.


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