I’ve read the phrase “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” a lot of times. As a result, I try to hang out with people who are smarter than I am. This has the double effect of making me a bit smarter, but also making them a bit dumber, which I think is good for everybody- you know- level the playing field a bit.
One of those five people suggested to me that I start daily journaling/planning. I had been getting stuck, finding it difficult to be productive in the day. I later learned that this is a symptom of some pretty serious mental health stuff, which I’m sure I’ll be writing about here later. The idea was pretty simple- that having a place daily to plan out the day might help solidify some accountability and help prevent getting stuck.
I started out with a specific planner that worked ok. I found it got a little repetitive, and therefore boring in the mornings, and I would sometimes skip or get stuck anyway. I also found there wasn’t any staying power to the journal- meaning if I had ideas for pieces or blogs, that I wouldn’t have a place to put them that I could come back to later. I learned about bullet journaling, and bought a HUGE (9x12 I think) bullet journal. It’s beautiful! I reasoned that I wanted the space to explore the page. At the same time, I started to use a beautiful music composition notebook that the same friend gave me.
Just five days after starting to use the two notebooks- I want to switch them. I want way more space to be creative in the composition book, and I want a little more room to focus in the bullet journal. It’s not horrible, and I’m going to use them until they are finished, or mostly finished, but all the research in the world doesn’t help until you actually are in the field trying something. That’s so frustrating!
The same effect is in play for music and photography. You really don’t know if a fingering, piece of equipment, or practice strategy is going to have the impact you’re looking for until you’re actually in the field working with it. That’s annoying, because you sometimes end up spending money that you wouldn’t spend if you could get it right the first time.
Knowing about the “you can’t research your way into experience” effect can be helpful, because it empowers you as an artist to realize when you’re in a research bubble. Are you spending hours debating over which product to get? It might make sense to review a return policy and just try it. Desperately trying to learn about which practice method to use? Just try it. Commitment can be scary and the “What if I’m wrong?” feeling can be overwhelming, but simply trying a low risk product or strategy can teach you far more, and be far faster than researching ever could.