Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a strong desire to learn new things. In the past few years I have been diving deep into learning how to write a novel—structuring plot, building tension, crafting scenes and developing great characters. Writing, whether a novel, short story or this blog, has been my creative outlet for a while now.
Lately writing alone has not been enough to fill my learning needs. You’d think with all there is to learn about structure and style, brainstorming ideas, and sitting down to actually write would fulfill my learning needs.
Yet, I still needed something more, something different. Setting aside any requisite skills and abilities to venture into other creative avenues, I thought about adding one of several options to my creative repertoire.
I’m no musician but I do love music. I played the piano when I was young, but was never very good.
When I ventured back into piano lesson in high school, I learned to improvise the rhythm of the left hand by reading chord notation and playing the right hand as written. This method provided me with the opportunity few of my piano playing fiends every had—to play popular music and make it somewhat recognizable to the listener.
Learning to play guitar seems somewhat similar, but it will need a dedicated regular schedule of lessons and a bit of an investment. Guitar probably isn’t in my near future.
Drawing, Illustrations, Art?
My dad’s mother was an artist. She painted beautiful Michigan forest-scapes generally with a smattering of birch trees.
One day after dinner, I was probably in middle school, she taught me to draw my subject upside-down. We pulled a Donald Duck rubber magnet off the fridge, turned Donald on his head and she had me replicate it on paper. The result ended up to be far more accurate than had I drawn it from the correct perspective.
I have since learned that drawing a subject upside-down uses your visual right brain leaving the rational, thinking left brain that keeps telling you “that doesn’t look right” mostly out of the activity.
I need to learn more technical skills to improve my drawing abilities rather than simple practice. I enjoy doodling, but I think I’ll leave illustrating to trained professionals.
Finding the Right Fit
These are just a couple of choices I considered, choosing two where I would likely have the best chance for success based on my interest level and limited history. Whatever choice I made would need to fit my style and not be a burden on my other responsibilities and interests.
Although I yearn for another creative activity I feel I already have a lot going on. If I could learn guitar using headphones, I think I’d pick up the guitar, although I’d prefer to learn acoustic. I wouldn’t want my family suffer the sounds of my “learning”.
App Development, Coding
I’m certainly dating myself when I tell you that I learned BASIC programming on my own using a TRS-80. Then in sixth grade we were taught using Apple II+ and Apple IIe computers. I still regret not taking more advanced programming courses (do you remember PASCAL and FORTRAN?) when I was in high school.
I’ve always been a math and logic based thinker which is probably why learning to code is so appealing to me. As with other creative pursuits, I love the idea of creating something tangible from my own idea. With coding there are loads of resources on-line, and I pretty much already have the software and equipment needed.
With the influx of apps created in basements or dorm rooms, on lunch breaks from work, by friends in bedrooms or a continent away, the flexibility checks another box on my next project evaluation list.
All that remains is coming up with that wonderful, exciting, stupendous idea. But, isn’t that half the fun?
Choosing Your Next Undertaking
Selecting new skills and abilities to learn can be a tricky task. In addition to showing an interest, you will need to evaluate whether you can put the time into learning that the new skills deserve. Weighing your commitments to family, friends and work as well as those you have made to yourself for other pursuits must be done prior to embarking on such a journey.
Sometimes it can be appealing to dive right in, but your success with any new undertaking hinges on whether you can put forth the effort necessary.
I’m all for learning new things to make my own world a more interesting place. I just want to make sure I’m not cluttering up the place with a bunch of half-baked attempts.
What new skills are you eager to learn? Do you have any skills you started to learn then pushed them aside? I’m interested to know what took precedence and whether you think you’ll pick them up again.