It’s my birthday today and for the last few years I’ve picked a “theme” for the year instead of posting resolutions. This year’s words come courtesy of a pin I bought to go on my knitting bag:

It’s about more than just knitting and sewing, though–yes, I want to practice my craft and do more with it–but it’s also about what I make with all my skills.

A couple weeks ago I found this talk by a designer and it made me shout, “YES!” internally.

“I think about the work that I do as a designer: it’s my job to make things for other people. I get hired by somebody to make something, and then that gets given to someone else—there are three steps there already. And if I do my job, and people love that, they share it with someone else, so there are potentially more steps after that. So how can I think about my job as anything other than giving a gift?

Essentially, the best work that I do is when I say something I really believe to people that I care about. Those are the times when the work is the best, and the times that it’s not like that, I feel awful inside […].

My work so often, as a designer, that has eaten away at me, has been to realize that my role is frequently to generate desire in other people. And to make them want. And the reason that I’m so prone to want to look at the work that I do from now on as a gift is because a gift offers the promise of satiating that desire in some way. 

So maybe if I can short-circuit the system somehow—design is just a skill, and we all get the benefit to choose how we use our skills—maybe instead of using it to make people want things, I can use the same skills to give them things that satiate those same desires.

Replace “designer” with “writer” (or any other profession, really) and that’s an amazing way of looking at how to make things. And that’s what I want to shift to.