Learning, tools, and respect

 

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my experience with writing tutorials on a variety of subjects. So, being the pontificating windbag that I am, I’m going to share them with you.


Learning

Whenever you discover some new thing you’d like to learn, you have to, well, learn more about it. This requires a certain process of practice, fact-finding, and usually seeking instruction of some kind.


“If I don’t feel good about doing it, I won’t keep doing it.”

Fair enough. It should be fun enough for you to continue trying, and and you should feel proud of yourself, but there will be setbacks and moments of discouragement. There will be times when you will discover (or will be told) that you did something “wrong.” This is part of the process and no one, no matter how brilliant, is exempt from it. Everyone goes through it and the ones who succeed in learning (whatever it is they’re trying to learn) are usually those who didn’t give up. Maybe they didn’t have as much natural talent as others, but they didn’t give up. That’s the secret. Not giving up, not even after it’s not always fun and even after you’re told you did something wrong.


Tools

Tools are things that we must learn to use to do the creative things we want to do. With digital graphics, one of our tools might be Photoshop. With editing video, one of our tools might be Sony Vegas, iMovie, or Final Cut Pro. With ceramics, one of our tools might be a potter’s wheel. And so forth and so on.


“But all this technical stuff is dragging me down and making me feel less creative.”

There’s a limit to how much technical stuff you can cram into your head at one time, and certainly you should try to intersperse some fun creative exercises into the learning process. But believing that being extra creative and especially talented can make up for ignorance of how to use your tools is a grave mistake. Creativity cannot compensate for not having a clue how to achieve a certain effect with your software. If you don’t know, you don’t know, and you must learn.


The more technical stuff you learn, the faster you’ll be at making a reality what you envision in your head. So the technical isn’t just this tedious stuff that only geeks care about, it’s actually a way for you to have more control over your work and express your creativity in a more efficient manner.


Respect

There are two kinds of respect I’ll talk about here. There’s the respect each person deserves for being a human being with a brain. Then there’s the respect that has to be earned.


“But you have to respect me.”
Yes and no. Yes, everyone should realize that we’re all human beings with unique thoughts and experiences. We don’t have to know what another person is thinking or their reasons for believing what they do, to know that it’s their business (as long as they’re not breaking any laws or hurting anyone).


Respect should mean that we don’t feel obliged to “fix” everyone who does not see things the way we do. We may never approve of or understand why they feel the way they do, but we should give them the respect of acknowledging that it’s their life. We should always keep in mind that they may have had different life experiences than us, and that because of this, they could possibly know something that we don’t. And also, we should be humble enough to remember that (especially when it comes to political, philosophical or religious issues) that we may not be as right as we think we are.


Some respect has to be earned.

There’s also the kind of respect that has to be earned. This is what confuses some. They may believe that any hair-brained scheme, any stupid or idiotic thing they do should get “respect,” or in other words, a stamp of approval.


I’ve encountered this quite a few times. “Why can’t you respect that this is just as good a way to do it?” I don’t have to do that. No one is owed that. They shouldn’t ask for it. It’s too much to ask. I can respect that as a human being who is able to make up their own mind, that they can do whatever they want. I can tell them to go ahead and do it that way, because it’s their life and it’s none of my business. But I cannot and will not tell them it’s a good way if I don’t think it is.


This is especially true when someone tries to persuade someone else that “their way” is a good way, but offers nothing in the way of evidence or proof to back it up. Their feeling that it ought to be respected—just because—isn’t enough on its own to earn the respect of others’ approval.


And these are my few thoughts about learning, tools, and respect!