How to Be Kind When We Talk about What We Make

@Francesca and I have gone a few times to a Lynda Barry-inspired comics workshop through the Sequential Artists Workshop, and yesterday the leader Michael Aschner shared a great chart he made to discourage us from talking trash about our drawings.

Michael likes to say that your drawing [or in the case of PLIX activities, whatever you create] is like a dinner guest. You wouldn’t be so rude to someone you invited over for a meal! So don’t be nasty to this thing you made, which didn’t exist in the world 5 minutes ago!

Here’s Michael’s handy translation chart for saying “I had something else in mind that doesn’t match what came out.” Like all things in creative learning, forgetting about whether you did “good enough” is a rough thing to get used to, especially if your participant (or you as the facilitator) tends to be a self-deprecating perfectionist. I know there are some of you out there! And you definitely have some coming to your learning experiences.

The column on the left reminds me of the discouraging prefaces I sometimes hear when I am leading the share and reflect pieces of creative learning workshops. How can we coach people to celebrate process, not just product, and to not worry about praise or critique, whether or not they themselves generate that judgment?

I’d love to know if people have similar rules about being kind to your projects that they can share!


I often find myself saying I’m not good at drawing and that’s why I like digital design :smile:

I like these opportunities to celebrate process.

It might even be helpful to plant these seeds even before you make something. I say that because there is at least one fabrication class (laser cutter or 3D printer) where I’ve inserted a sketch box for people, and they didn’t use it. And the sketch box is helpful for the facilitator because sometimes the words aren’t fully there to describe what the person would like to make.

I’ve helped facilitate some quick design thinking exercises and we would start by having people pair up and draw a portrait of each other and that would elicit a lot of embarrassed “SORRY’s” from people. When we did that, we were trying to ease them into more prototyping. So with all that context, I might also throw in something about riding a bicycle (which I haven’t done in YEARS!). We’re doing something we may not often do, or in a way we may not often do it, and we’re here to ride our creativity bike. Might that work too?

Edited to add: I slept on this a few days, and appreciate that this is solid modeling behavior :smile: