Why do you make things? According to one peer, Karen, we make things “because it’s fun.” I’d like to take her statement a bit further, as Lee did, we make things because it challenges us to push beyond our limits. This idea is exactly what we’ve been talking about as we’ve been reading chapters out of Clay Shirkey’s book, Cognitive Surplus. To take this another step further, as we read in our text, there’s something special about having a feeling of accomplishment and competency. That’s what motivates us to “make things”—the idea that we’ll be successful. Now, that’s not to say that we’ll always be successful, but it’s better than being complacent and lazy our whole lives.
I think Katy brings up an important point in her blog as well. She suggests that non-English majors don’t always acknowledge writing as a form of making things. While we English majors view writing as a craft similar to carpentry or painting, our peers do not always see the light. They see writing simply as a form of communication and do not see the underlying need for writing for improvement.
To Make is to challenge ourselves.
The Setonian Magazine is an excellent example for why we make things. We make things to take a risk, to venture into the unknown and to have something that we’re proud of. We make things to express not only ourselves but also information we’re trying to convey to others. This is very evident on the diocesan website I help maintain. Without a useful graphic and text to accompany it, we wouldn’t be able to communicate as efficiently with the Catholic community.
To Make is to create a partial memory.
This headline speaks directly to me. Some people in my family criticize my obsession with photography and documenting everything about my life, but I see this as a creation of lasting memories. Why should we rely on our minds to keep experiences fresh? Photographs offer a lasting document that will never go away (unless you lose your files—then you’re screwed). So, for me, I make things–I manipulate photography and words to express myself and intensify experiences from my life. Without these two tools, I’d still have partial memories, but imagery such as these provide a lasting archive of my life.
To Make is therapeutic.
One of the twitter accounts at the start of the article acknowledged that making things is a form of therapy, and I couldn’t agree more. I actually spoke with Dr. Jerz about this just a few days ago. We were discussing the value in building things with a hammer and nails. Nothing releases pent up stress and frustration like slamming nails into a piece of wood. At the end of the day, you feel accomplished because you’ve made something out of a few pieces of 2×4 and you feel refreshed because you’ve let out a lot of your emotions.
In the same way, writing can be therapeutic as well. Alice Seabold, author of The Lovely Bones, also wrote a memoir of her experience being raped as a freshman at Syracuse University. Although her motives were partially to motivate young girls to be strong and fight for their lives, I’m sure writing Lucky was also a form of therapy for her. To go through such an emotional experience left a scar on her—in her that can never be erased.
There are a lot of reasons why we make things, but it all comes down to motivation, as suggested by Shirkey in Chapter 3. We are motivated by enjoyment or challenge or even by the need to relieve ourselves of personal issues. We make, write, create and recreate to keep us sane. If everything remained the same, we’d never find progress…