likes waiting? I don’t. Waiting is hard. And yet, there is so much
waiting to do in life. I overheard two ten-year-olds recently:
been to Disneyland before,” the first said.
haven’t. What’s it like?”
fun, but you spend most of the time waiting in lines. The lines are
in Disneyland there is a lot of waiting. I guess it is inescapable.
I’ve been looking back on the year and seeing how much I’ve grown.
It’s nice to see that there is improvement. Day-to-day, that’s hard
for visible improvement is hard. If I lost a few pounds every time I
exercised, it would be a lot easier to keep up. A month of exercise
without any improvement at all, on the other hand, makes patience
difficult. (And exercising is much less fun than drawing or
painting. This is probably why this is such a difficult habit for me
to keep. Maybe if I could keep it up long enough for me to be a
little better at it, I’d enjoy it more…)
speaker at church on Sunday reminded us that we learn a lot faster
with formal education. I went home and started researching art
schools and programs once again. I looked at the cost and sighed and
closed the windows in my browser.
on my own is more difficult, and takes longer. But, I do improve. I
am getting better. I just need to be patient and keep it up.
Waiting is hard. It’s a good thing that art is fun. (Most of the
waiting isn’t much fun, how do we develop patience? Looking back and
seeing progress helps. Remembering why I’m doing this helps.
Promising myself specific rewards helps. Feeling accountable in some
way helps. (For example, not wanting to miss a day in your
sketchbook or on your blog, or having someone you draw with or share
pictures with regularly. Finding a mentor to check in with is good
often remind myself that if I wasn’t doing any art at all, I would
miss it. Time would pass either way, and not doing any art wouldn’t
bring me any closer to my goals. And those times when everything
goes right somehow and something I did leaves me asking, “I made
that?” That’s probably the most motivating of all. It’s worth the
you enjoy waiting? Do you have any tips for making waiting fun or at
least a little easier?
When trying to learn something on your
own, it is important to spend some time on figuring out how you learn
best. I think that most people have a combination of strategies that
they use when learning something new. It can be helpful to analyze
why and how those strategies work for you so that you can use them
Since I was young, I felt like I
learned best from reading. This was especially true if there were
pictures to look at. One memorable example was learning to knit from
books. Books are still one of the first resources I turn to when
learning something new.
One of the least effective ways for me
to learn is from lectures. To compensate, I learned to take very
thorough notes in school. It’s a habit that has continued, and I
find that I remember and learn more by taking notes, even if I never
go back to reread them.
Superficially, this would tell me to
always learn new things from books and avoid classrooms altogether.
However, this is not really the most effective way for me to learn.
To figure out how I best learn, I had to analyze why books work so
much better for me than lectures.
When I read, I pause often to think
about what I read. I visualize the process. I think about how it
connects to what I already know. I turn back several pages to check
on something I remember reading to see if it relates to what I just
In a lecture, my mind is making all
the same leaps. Unfortunately, the information keeps coming, even
when my brain is on pause. When I take notes, it forces me to focus
on writing down the information and staying on task. My mind still
sometimes wanders, but it isn’t for as long, and I can usually pick
up what I missed to fill in the holes in my notes. I have to think
about the information later, often while checking back over my notes
to make connections.
My way of taking notes.
When I am learning to do something
new, my first attempt usually doesn’t go well. Failure, while not
fun, is part of the process. I then go back to check what I learned
to see where I went wrong. Books, especially books with diagrams,
usually have lots of information that I can go through to compare to
my attempt. I make a hypothesis on what I need to fix, and try
Lectures, because of time constraints,
have less information to go through. An hour of lecture could fill
less than a chapter of a good book. Books are more helpful when
things go wrong.
A couple of my daily practice sketches from January 2019.
However, actually seeing something
done really helps with visualizing what I need to do. Instead of
trying to piece it all together through descriptions and diagrams, I
can see exactly how it works. The problem is that demonstrations
usually make things look easier than they are. It’s hard to
reproduce that on my own.
Seeing something done, thinking it
through and visualizing it, attempting it on my own, then getting
feedback on what I did wrong, and trying again? That is really how I
learn best. Books and lectures are just the vehicles for the
information that I need.
Looking at that process, how I really
learn, I can see many other ways I can best accomplish it. Finding a
mentor might be the most effective way for me to learn. YouTube
videos and google searches could be valuable if done right.
Knowing how I really learn best can
help me be creative in how I learn. I can be more effective with the
time I have. This is one of the great advantages of self study.
Practicing is a necessary step in the
learning process. Samuel Johnson once said that, “By writing, you
learn to write.” Putting what I’ve learned into practice is the
ultimate test to see how well I’m really learning. If I can’t use
the information I have, the information isn’t very helpful after all.
But studying is an important partner
to that practice. Without new information, you are attempting to
slowly reinvent what others have already learned and shared.
Learning from the people who have gone before you can save you so
I love to learn new things. There is
such a feeling of accomplishment when I do something I couldn’t do
before. That moment when I understand something that didn’t make
sense to me, that feeling of the last puzzle piece clicking into
place, is so rewarding. Learning how I learn best makes the entire
process easier and less frustrating so that I can get to the good
part of learning that much faster.
How do you learn best? Has that
changed over time? Does it change depending on what you’re learning?
Do you like to learn new things?
This story was originally posted on March 23, 2017. I like the idea of pirates who steal odd things like they do in this story. Maybe someday I’ll write a story where pirates take the words right out of your mouth. That could be funny, too. Brian took off his