Posts tagged megan
Proposals and Evenings with Authors

It’s been quite a week— these last few days have been busy with some new potential projects and evenings capped off by listening to some incredible writers. At last count, there were at least five project proposals in the hopper, and I was lucky enough to hear authors Min Jin Lee and Neil Gaiman speak and read from their work.

I tend to romanticize the art of writing. I usually imagine Hemingway in Paris— waking and writing from an old drafty apartment. He labors over a manuscript, and the room warms up as he types away on his Royal Quiet de Luxe stationed next to a crackling fireplace. He steps away after writing something utterly profound, and goes for a walk, an espresso, or maybe brunch with his buddy, F. Scott.

These days, I’m interested by writers’ thoughts on the art of writing. The observations of Anne Lamott comes to mind— her book on writing, Bird by Bird, is a favorite of mine. I wish designers explored/reflected on their processes as well as writers do. Perhaps writing about writing as a writer is more natural than a designer writing about design.

But I do enjoy the act of writing. I don’t think I’m particularly good at it, but it’s something I want to become good at. (That’s why I’m here.) Blogging is enjoyable, but unfortunately there’s no attached paycheck to take home. Project proposals do the trick— or rather, that’s the goal. 

So in this last week, I’ve had a change of mindset on my process of drafting project proposals. What if I found a way to make them just as fun to write and read as writing a blog? I can’t say I’ve mastered this shift in methodology, but this new question does challenge me to try a new approach, especially if a particular method for a proposal doesn’t end up being successful. (On a similar theme, it was encouraging to hear Min Jin Lee talk about all of her rejected proposals even as a successful author.) 

So keep writing. “Ass in the chair,” as Mary Heaton Vorse put it.

Enjoy the links, 


Neil Gaiman on why the future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming – I haven’t read any of Gaiman’s works, but I attended his lecture anyhow— and I’m glad I did. He read the above essay to the crowd, and it’s a powerful one. I wasn’t much of a reader until I decided to become a designer. At that point my grandfather (also a designer) said: “If you want to become a designer you need to learn how to read.” I asked if he meant photoshop books. He said, “No, whatever you can get your hands on.” That was definitely a turning point. Reading has changed my life. After years of mostly reading non-fiction, I’m finally diving into novels. My life is changed once again for the better. 

From the Hive, Episode 17: Leslie Hershberger - Intention, Pause & We-ness – This From the Hive interview with Leslie Hershberger is one of my favorites yet. It’s especially helpful to connect meditation practices to every compartment of one’s life. Meg and I are taking an enneagram class with Leslie at The Hive that started this week.

Taking the Empire Builder train across America – Meg and I are taking a train to Seattle at the end of June. This article whets my appetite for the slow adventure ahead of us. This quote from the article has stuck with me: “There is a mindset adjustment required to unlock the willingness to enjoy the journey rather than project forward to the destination. But once that switch is flicked, ridin’ those rails is a lot of fun.”

Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology – One of the perks of being an adjunct professor is being surrounded by about all the inspiring events happening at the university— like this one coming up at the end of the month. I’m particularly excited about the improv and service design workshops. 

Brain Rules Part 1 and Part 2 with Dr. John Medina on the Buyer’s Mind podcast – Here’s Dr. John Medina on the science behind the brain’s functions and why’s it’s helpful in our interactions with others and yourself.

Kudos to Pat for introducing me to John Medina and Christopher Maier for copy edits. 

What Is Your Quest?
Thursday morning woods walk turned  wet walk.

Thursday morning woods walk turned wet walk.


I continue to linger on the contrast between learning and problem-solving (see last weeks post and Hurry Slowly Ep. 17). There’s less fear and anxiety when equipped with a lens of learning. A kind of childlike naivety opens the mind to different ideas. Problem-solving, on the other hand, implies stress, which can close the door to original pathways.

Good questions are an excellent vehicle for learning. Richard Saul Wurman speaks to that with an interview with Debbie Millman (see link below). He elevates the word “quest," which I appreciate. A quest is a long, arduous search for something (Google's definition). I'm starting to understand that we're all on our journey or quest. What is your quest? There's no better place to look than at the questions we ask others and ourselves every day.

How do I dodge complacency and recognize and reframe my deep-seated biases? That appears to be a quest of mine. At least that's the theme I draw from the links below. That, and initial preparations for my fall UCD course at DAAP. Eek! August will be here in no time. 



Richard Saul Wurman Interview With Debbie Millman 
Debbie Millman does a good job interviewing Richard. The most compelling segment is toward the end when Debbie goes off script and asks Richard what he wants to talk about. Richard doesn't want to answer Debbie's initial round of questions regarding his past. Richard prefers to talk about the future. What leads me to question the tendency to ask older or successful people to recount their experiences as if they’ve completed their journey? What if instead of asking about the past, we talked about what’s now or what’s next? I tested my new theory on a friend who’s thirty-years older than me. Like Debbie, I dwelled on his past. I caught myself and asked him what’s next? It led to one of the most intimate conversations I’ve had all week.

Everything Easy is Hard Again by Frank Chimero 
Every so often I feel the pressure to learn how to code. While there’s been plenty of false starts, I’ve never made a genuine commitment to the cause. Frank’s perspective, from someone who does code, is encouraging. It’s impossible to keep up with the web, and perhaps the old, slow solutions are enough. I doubt I will leap into code. However, I do hope to find a reliable dev. partner in Cincinnati or beyond. I’m continually receiving requests for web design projects, and I don’t think that trend will fade anytime soon. Reach out if you’re interested or have any tips.

Design Discourse Is In A State Of Arrested Development 
Are we (designers) adding value? What happens when we start to ask that question of our work and others’?: “Our tendency is to focus on techniques and tools and to ignore the deeper questions. And it’s not just that we’re unwilling to examine our failures; we’re just as likely to focus only on the superficial aspects of our successes, too.”

As a design student, how do I deal with my professors teaching outdated tools and methods?
“Use this opportunity to ‘learn how to learn,’ and use resources outside of school to teach yourself the latest tools and techniques. That curiosity and drive to learn on your own will serve you well in a design career.” I found this advice likewise helpful for the professor when it seems impossible to keep up with ever constant change. A focus on the foundations and teaching the students how to learn gives them timeless gifts that they will use beyond the classroom and throughout their careers. 

A Helpful Diagram (for design students)
"Venn and The Art of Being a Design Student."

The Silent Rise of The Female-Driven Economy
“Put very simply, most of the structures, design, technology, and products we interact with are designed with male as the default.” How myopic. It’s time to start asking who will be alienated by what we design?

The Side Effects of the Decline of Men
Instead of learning to code (see Chimero notes above), perhaps it’s more important than ever to build an emotional IQ?: “The researchers suggest the scientific evidence shows that women have on average stronger skills in empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, and corporate America is valuing those qualities all the more.”

Kudos to ChrisKathryn, and Meg for link suggestions.