Sometimes, I go through phases where I just want to design. I don’t want to write about it, don’t want to talk about it, and don’t want to explain what I’ve done. I want to think conceptually, or arrange type on a page, or compose layouts, or organize information, or explore color palettes, all without getting distracted by attempts to put thoughts behind actions into written words. It’s a selfish period where I want to stay comfortable focusing on my known strengths.

Other days, some instinct kicks in, and I find myself wanting to help people “get it”. I venture into the [for me] less familiar territory of writing, speaking, and teaching. I enjoy breaking down a process or a technique, and carefully constructing an explanation, so that even the most unfamiliar mind can grasp a seemingly complex idea. Or a simple one never thought of before that moment. I love seeing light bulbs suddenly turn on in people’s minds, and the creativity and industriousness which so often follows.

It seems like a tug-of-war, the marker constantly switching sides. On one side, creativity thrives, experiments happen, lots of work gets done, and new ideas abound. However, this often represents the quiet stretches of inactive writing in this space. The other side is more reflective and analytical. The weblog gets updated, tutorials get started, questions sent via email get answered, and words flow faster than I can type, write, or speak them.

I don’t see this as a negative thing. In fact, the opposite. I enjoy it. It’s a constant balancing act I go through. Sway to one side, then try to get back to middle ground. I like staying focused on one thing at a time. Do well whatever I’m doing. But when multiple irons are in the stove, this means some of them undoubtedly go unused for bit while I’m using another.

About the author

Designer, advisor, father. Previously led design teams at Twitter, Google, and Wired. Giants fan. Deutsche lernen. Wanna-be runner.

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