For Best Results, Learn By Doing.

by Ainslie

I watch a lot of YouTube videos. No, I don’t mean cat videos or, like, babies doing funny stuff. I like a good cat video as much as the next guy, but I’m talking about a different kind of YouTube content. The kind most people aren’t even away of (for shame!) What I mean is daily vlogs, comedy sketches, music, and a variety of webseries – all created for YouTube, for the internet.

It all started when a friend introduced me to videos by the vlogbrothers, charlieissocoollike, and nerimon last winter. If you don’t know the vlogbrothers – otherwise known as Hank and John Green – honestly, you’re doing the internet wrong. I could argue the same for My Drunk Kitchen and Ze Frank.

I watch more YouTube content that I do actual TV shows, lately. And that’s a big deal, if you know how much I love quality TV. YouTube is just one of the super rad ways the internet has dismantled the role of any kind of gatekeeper standing in the way of releasing our creative content into the world. A super creative, fun, and inspirational community of epically talented people have taken fierce advantage of this situation.

I want to try this new thing, but…

I’ve been dying to try vlogging out for myself, ever since I became away of the option. I’ve always been a writer, and an occasional visual artist, but it took me a really long time to get over the awkward fear of being in front of a camera. Also the fear of having nothing to say or vlog about.

I’m still working on both of those things, but about three weeks ago I got so tired of not vlogging that I just did it. In fact, I decided to make a short vlog every day for 30 days. I love a good challenge, and figured that was likely a good way to force myself into shedding some camera fear – a serious DIY crash course.

It’s been an amazing experience so far (today is day 18 of 30). I still feel awkward and pit-in-the-stomach-y every day before, during, and after turning the camera on, but it’s not as bad as the first few days. I look forward to it – to the challenge of doing something a bit scary, to pushing myself to get better. It’s an awesome creative project, to push myself to create some little bit of content in this totally new medium every day.

I had a bit of an existential crisis half way through. What am I doing? Why am I doing this?

Watch yesterday’s vlog in which I explain what I came up with:


The Best Way To Learn Is To Do

I’m a chronic over-researcher. Otherwise known as the “perfectionist,” we like to learnlearnlearn a knowknowknow before doing something. As if all that book learnin’ and other research can prevent us from screwing up, from failing, and will make sure we get it right the first time.

Thing is, that’s like the worst belief ever. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with being well informed on a subject or activity before you take it on yourself. I would recommend it, in fact (duh). Exceeeeeeept. It can only take you so far.

And then you just have to learn by doing. And probably sucking, failing, screwing up, looking like a bit of a fool for a while until you work out the kinks. But you will.

And then you’ll be doing something awesome.

This lesson is applicable to, like, everything.

It’s been the best tactic I’ve employed in starting up Wordtastic, too.

All the pre-biz-launch prep I did has nothing on actually taking on clients, learning from the process of working with people, writing for them, getting feedback on the process, on my writing, feedback on what they actually need help with.


Is there something you need to just start doing? Somewhere you need to quit the research of a project and start learnin’ by doing?

As for me, I’m going to keep vlogging + video-making way beyond my 30 days. It’s reignited my interest in filmmaking in a big way, and I’ve got some serious ideas taking over here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca April 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I thought if I continued to stalk other coaches blogs and websites it’d keep me motivated to keep doing more cool stuff myself… but I find it works the exact opposite! The more “research” I do, the more I start feeling really bad about myself, like I’m not keeping up, I’m not doing enough. At some point it’s IMPERATIVE to shut down your damn internet and just start working on whatever crazy ideas you already have… cuz they are good enough just as they are, and you’ll never believe it til you start DOING them.


Ainslie April 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Yes! That fine line between drawing inspiration from the creative work of others and comparing ourselves to them can be a dangerous place to go. We’re all such huge consumers online, it can be so hard to remember to just step back, shut ‘er down, and give ourselves the time to create, to let our little ideas grow into big, awesome ideas that are just as good as anyone else’s. That “reading deprivation week” I did a while back was seriously one of the best things I’ve done for my creativity recently. I recommend it.


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