Learning How to Learn on the Fly

When you are creating something, you have to teach yourself how to do a lot of things that you probably never expected to need to know. There is a lot more business behind creative endeavors than one might realize at first. I will definitely dig into this later (both here and on my podcast, An Incomplete Guide to World Domination). For now, though, I am going to share how I learned a very useful skill.

How to learn things quickly.

Step one: know your learning style

Fun fact: different people learn different things in different ways. It’s shocking, I know. There are some people who can pick things up by reading, while others have to have someone explain it. I feel like most people have to actually do the thing themselves to really understand how to do it, but some have to do some research beforehand. A lot of people probably waffle between different styles depending on what it is they are trying to learn.

That is totally okay. The key is, knowing how you learn best and using that to decide how you are going to learn a new thing.

For me, it helps to be able to watch how a thing is done so that I can then go and copy it. I absolutely cannot learn anything technical by reading. I may be able to get the basics, but I need to see it to really get it. 

Step two: make sure you aren’t overcomplicating things

It is really not that hard to make things harder than they need to be. A lot of people think they need to get all of the books and take all of the classes on a subject in order to really understand it. That isn’t always the case, especially when you are trying to pick up a new skill.

Chances are when you are starting out, you don’t need to know how to do everything. It is okay to start with the basics and learn from there. 

Part of this ties in with the whole knowing your learning style. Some people (like me) can pick up new skills on their own time using the resources available to them without investing any sort of money. There is a sort of self-discipline and level of organization required for this. And a lot of stubbornness.

I also know some people who need the structure and organization and the deadlines that come with a classroom environment. It forces them to stay focused while making it harder for them to be distracted. That financial investment makes it harder for them to give up part of the way through. 

If this is you, may I recommend looking into continuing education classes at a community college, or online courses? These can be more affordable while providing the structure you need.

Step three: find your people

There is a good chance, if you are reading this, that you are about to embark on a creative endeavor of some sort.

If so, I cannot stress enough how important it is to FIND A COMMUNITY. There are communities everywhere for whatever kind of thing you are looking to create. The key is finding your people and sticking with them. They will give you the support you need when going through the hard times as well as proving to be an incredibly valuable resource. 

I am currently a part of two different audio fiction podcast communities through Discord. A lot of the people on there have been doing this a lot longer than I have. They also know a lot more about the tools and technicalities of audio editing than I do.

Having those people who I have a connection with that I can ask questions and advice has made a huge difference.  We talk everything from sound design to foley work to resources to production timelines to scriptwriting to current projects to Patreon to how to create an LLC and track business expenses. We also like to goof off and talk about road trips to conventions.

Find your people. They will make your life so much easier and so much better.

Step four: free tutorials are everywhere

For someone who had no idea what they were doing starting out, I have gotten pretty dang good at audio editing. I’m also pretty good when it comes to designing graphics through Canva. Did I study either of these things? No. 

I taught myself. Using YouTube.

Seriously though, YouTube is great for learning how to do things. There are countless tutorials covering everything you could possibly want to know made by professionals. If there is anything you need to learn, you can find it on there. It may take some digging, but it exists.

There are also people who do free webinars where not only can you learn things, but you can also ask questions. You can even watch live streams of people doing things to learn how things are done.

Either way, there are a plethora of free resources out there that you can use to pick up new skills or figure out how to do something before you go investing money in a class.

Step five: libraries, meetups, and more

This one kind of depends on your area, but it is still worth looking into.

Libraries are not only home to plenty of books that you can check out and use to teach yourself things, but they also often host regular events. These events are not just about books, but about learning. They have these events listed on their website or their social media accounts (if they have them). 

My personal favorite is Meetup.com. I have had an account there for a while now. It is the perfect place to find local social groups as well as more professional/educational groups. I highly recommend creating an account of your own. A few of my groups are social but I’m also in some for social media, WordPress, and podcasting. This is a great way to meet in a neutral area with a group of people with similar interests and learn something new. 

Basically, there is a whole host of ways you can learn something new. Just remember to not overcomplicate things. Don’t let your own lack of understanding stand between you and trying a new thing. Take that first step and you will eventually find your way. If you get lost, there are plenty of people you can ask for help. 

The question is, what are you going to learn next?

The Sound of Stories

I started getting hooked on podcasts in college. It started with Welcome to Nightvale, then branched into several other shows. I fell in love with the medium as a whole. There is a kind of storytelling that can be achieved through audio that I had never experienced before. 

I especially fell in love with audio dramas. One in particular that will always be special to me is We’re Alive. I am normally not a big fan of zombie apocalypse stories, but the characters in this one were so dynamic I couldn’t help myself. The sound design made it feel like I was really there. 

I have listened through that show twice now and the ending gets me every time. I was beyond ecstatic to find out they were adding new seasons. 

It was around my senior year in college that I joined my first podcast. Through a friend on Twitter, I was invited to be a panelist on the Supergirl Supercast (part of TeeVee, which is part of the Incomparable podcast network). I had a blast bantering back and forth with the panelists, overanalyzing the story and laughing at the “super-science.”

This was the start of a rabbit hole. I started looking into doing a podcast of my own. I started realizing that many of my story ideas would be better told through audio. While I was the interim managing editor for a small DFW publication, I was reminded of how much I enjoy interviewing people. 

That sparked an idea. An idea that would take me months to finally follow up on.

I launched An Incomplete Guide to World Domination a few months ago. I have always loved helping people tell their stories, especially people who have fought hard to make their dream a reality. You can hear that tone in their voice when they finally relax and start opening up about the thing that they are passionate about. That thing that gets them up every morning and helps them keep going, even when times are hard. 

I wanted to give them a place to share that. To share their story. To show those who are at the start of their journey that it is possible to make it happen. It may not be easy. It will take some time. But it is possible.

This caused a chain reaction that would eventually lead to a decision I never quite expected.

That decision being to create Pseudonym Social as a creative podcast network to house all of my ideas (and some of my friends’ ideas). I already have the basic site set up from another idea I had a while ago, so I built off of that. 

Part of this was sparked by conversations on Twitter. I had been playing with the idea of doing a podcast where I interview people’s D&D characters for a while. Every time I mentioned it in a conversation on Twitter, I got the same response. “Where is the Patreon?”

So I spent the next week creating the Patreon, doing all of the show art, updating the website, and tracking down some interviews. Tales of Adventure launched with a trailer on Monday, September 23 with the first full episode dropping the following Wednesday. 

That makes two podcasts I am producing entirely by myself, with a third in progress (a RP podcast with some friends of mine). I don’t think I ever expected to be here, doing this, but I absolutely love it. 

I love hearing people’s stories. I love connecting with other creators. I love helping promote what people are working on and helping encourage them throughout their journey. 

Heck, I even enjoy editing the audio. (Though transcribing it all will be less fun)

I have to say, I think I have found my niche. I’m still working on my novels. I’m still working on my games. I still plan on getting my master’s in creative writing. I am just going to be creating podcasts along the way.

I am changing the world one story at a time. So why not start with yours?