Marilag Lubag's Blog

From Terrible to Greatness

March 3, 2016
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The more you try to push yourself, the better you’ll do. It will be awful at first but the more you practice you have, the better you’ll get. Eventually, you will learn the skill that you would become an expert.

As a kid, I love music but I sing out of tune. I sing everywhere I go that I’m putting Donkey (Shrek’s best friend) a run for his money during long trips. Eventually, I learned how to sing. I’ve been asked to do solo ever since.

The key is not to give up. Just because you’re bad at something doesn’t mean that you won’t become good at it if you work hard. There are a lot of things I was awful at doing at first but I keep on practicing them. I eventually become good at a lot of things. People might think that I’m a Jill of all trades but they didn’t see the countless hours it took me to master the things I’m good at now.

Just because you’re awful at something doesn’t mean that you can’t become good at it. With practice, you can become better than those who have a natural affinity for such activities who don’t practice at all. Practice makes perfect. It happened to me and it can happen to you.

The Double-Edged Sword

March 2, 2016
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Sometimes, it’s easier to learn the craft when we’re with a lot of like-minded people. At the same time, it’s easy to feel insecure. If someone could do what you’re doing ten times better, it would make you feel insecure no matter how self-confident you are. Nevertheless, I find it easier to learn when I’m with people who are good at what they do. It makes me want to strive harder to learn just to keep up. Despite my insecurities, I’m better for it.

For example, when I was in grade school, I wrote some poems that got published in the school newspaper. In high school, I joined the school newspaper. While I’m average at what I did (I didn’t win any contest), I still learned how to do things better because of the education I got from my teacher. I’m a good poet but even then, I had to admit that there are others who are better writer than me.

On the other hand, it causes me to feel insecure at my classmates—they were better writers. Still, I write and improve in my own pace, even if I’m not as good as they are. Eventually, things even out. Some people had stopped writing. Others are now writing for a living. We improve in our own pace. Our growth depends largely on whether we want to write or not and how much practice we’re having. We shouldn’t feel insecure if people are better than us.

People that are better than us in our respective crafts should inspire us rather than hinder us. If we can see the good side of working with other people, we would be able to have new ideas to incorporate in our craft. On the other hand, if we let our insecurities to get the better of us, it would hinder our progress.

When we’re around other people who are good in our chosen craft, it’s easy to feel insecure. However, we need to let go of our insecurities so that we can become the best artist we can be. It’s time to do our best and let others inspire us instead of letting our insecurities get the best of us.

Away from Prying Eyes

March 1, 2016
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The best thing about being self-taught when it comes to learning my craft is that there’s no competition. I don’t have to compare myself with other people and I could just perform happily doing what I need to do, incorporating what I learned from other people and just be. It allows me to experiment without the fear of judgment even if they turn out horrible to the end.

Being self-taught allows me to practice away from prying eyes and with full confidence that I’m the best at what I do simply because I have nobody to compare myself with. Of course, by the time I show my finished product to others, I had practiced so much that I’ve actually become quite good at it. When people finally see my finished product, all they could think about was how good it was. They didn’t see the countless hours I spent perfecting and experimenting on my craft.

Practicing on my own lessens my performance anxiety as well. I could practice the way I wanted and the only people who would be affected are myself and people on my immediate surroundings like when a child wants to play the violin (the parents just have to grin and bear it). With enough practice, the child eventually becomes so good at it that they would be asked to play in front of others.

My point is, it’s easier to practice if we don’t compare ourselves with other people. In my case, I used to do a lot of scarves in mismatching colors and in no particular order. While I still make them, I had learned over the years to stick to one or two colors. At the very least, they’re complimentary.

When we’re just starting to learn our crafts, we need to practice on our own. It is easier to develop our skills when we don’t have other people to compare ourselves with. Eventually, we would be good at our craft and develop our own style. Practice makes perfect. It would also be easier when we don’t have to look over our shoulder to have somebody to compare ourselves to.

The Battle In Our Head

February 29, 2016
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As an artist, it’s easy to get intimidated by someone whom we perceive is better than us at our respective crafts. This is true whether I’m talking about singing, writing, crocheting, or any other artistic skills I decided to try my hands on. While it’s true that there are people who are going to be better than us in terms of our craft, it’s also true that we would be better than other people.

In Stephen Covey’s Everyday Greatness, Dolly Parton has revealed that she was insecure of Reba McIntire. While people consider Dolly Parton a legend, she was also battling insecurities of her own. Similarly, there would be people that would make us feel small just by standing right next to them. In the case of Dolly Parton, it’s when she was standing right next to Reba. We need to battle that feeling of insecurity so that we could become the best that we could be given our capabilities. We all work at a different pace so we shouldn’t let other people’s progress hamper our own.

The battle is mostly in our head. It’s easy to feel insecure standing right next to someone who’s so good at their craft that we feel like what we would do is useless compared to them. Not only is that mindset useless, it’s also particularly harmful. We need to do our best despite the insecurities we’re feeling. We don’t have to be the best in order to be recognized at what we do. Otherwise, half the famous artists wouldn’t be as famous as they are. What matters is that we keep working on our craft. The battle we should have is whether or not we did better than last time.

It’s not easy trying to learn our craft when we’re battling other people in our head. Often, I find them as a distraction as I try to do my best in my craft. They might be good in other people’s eyes but it shouldn’t prevent us from performing our best. Dolly Parton had to battle her own insecurities. If she let her insecurities, there wouldn’t be a legend that we know. Similarly, you and I shouldn’t let our insecurities get the best of us.

How to Train with a Master

February 26, 2016
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Sometimes, I like to pretend that I’m Whitney Houston (may she rest in peace) and would try to sing the way she does. Of course, it would always end up with me yelling aloud. My voice isn’t designed to be that of Whitney Houston. Mine is a cross between Broadway and Classical. I’m not designed to sing like Whitney Houston. Nevertheless, I like to sing and to pretend that I’m Whitney Houston when I find the time for karaoke—an impossible task these days.

Pretending to be someone who’s good at their craft is a good way to learn the craft. Whether it’s trying to imitate Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting or trying to write in the style of J.K. Rowling, trying to imitate a master is a good way to learn the basics while we’re developing our own skillset. Eventually, we would develop our own preferences until we know our craft enough to have our own style.

While some people would argue that we need to develop our own style, it’s not easy to develop our own style if we don’t know what style we like. It would be better to have your top five favorite authors, try to imitate their style, and keep what we like about them and throw away what we don’t. We won’t know what we want until we have an idea of what it could be.

Imitating a master is a form of training. Anyone who says otherwise either wasn’t very good at what they do or are lying. Every world class artist have other artists before them that influenced them. It’s how they learn what works for them and what doesn’t. Don’t be hesitant to imitate other artist while studying our craft. What’s important is to use them as a guide—to take what we like about them and to set aside what we don’t. Each individual is so unique that they cannot fully imitate the master. Sooner or later, the artist would know himself or herself enough to have his or her own style.

Who is your favorite artist on the medium you enjoy?

To Be a Professional

February 25, 2016
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It doesn’t take a genius to understand that we need to invest a lot if we are to develop our craft. It’s not easy to do what we want we don’t have the skillset to do it. It’s like not having the right tools for what we wanted to do.

We need to invest time and money in order to learn our craft. I had countless of crochet magazines and books—instructions that would show me how to do certain things such as Broomstick lace, Bruges lace, and fillet crochet. I take my time to practice so that I am able to do what I want in terms of such techniques. I start with simple projects first. Later on, I develop a more complex items—something that can be reflected with my improved skillset.

If you are serious about your craft, you need to do similar things. You need to practice such skill set and invest in books, lessons, and practice. Otherwise, you would not improve in terms of your medium. The goal is to be a better artist. It’s okay to produce work in subpar quality if you’re just starting. However, you should produce better work in the subsequent projects. After all, the more you practice, the better you get.

It takes time to develop our skills in order to succeed. Still, we often get impatient with the results. Real professional artists takes time to develop. They often start as terrible artists but with constant practice, they become masters. As a child, my crochet practice were too tight and curl. I’m able to follow a pattern but I would always wonder why they don’t measure the way it was specified. Later on, I realized that I’m not following the gauge.

I am able to create better items two years later. With constant practice, I am able to do double crochet evenly. Soon, I’m able to teach my classmates how it should be done. At this moment, I’m trying to decide whether or not to get a certificate of being a master in crochet. For now, I’m practicing my skills.

Being a competitive professional artist requires an investment of time and money. It’s like being a professional in some other fields. To become competitive at something, we need to push ourselves in order to learn the basics. It takes a decade to become a doctor. Similarly, it takes a lot of time and practice to become a competitive in our crafts. I don’t expect a beginner in crochet to produce the same materials I am able to produce overnight. It took me years of practice to master my skill. For that matter, don’t expect yourself to write with the same quality as that of J.K. Rowling or that of Stephen King if you just started writing. They had been writing since they were children while you just started very recently.

Take your time to learn your particular craft. If they’re not looking the way you want, keep practicing. The people you consider were good at their craft had put on more hours. Similarly, you need time in order to catch up.

What have you done to improve your skillset?

In Pursuit of Passion

February 24, 2016
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It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there are things in life that we dream of doing. However, dropping everything in pursuit of that dream might not be the best option—at least not in the beginning. Sometimes, we have to do our jobs to pay the bills. That allows us to be in pursuit of our passions while in full stomach.

The notion that we have to drop everything to follow our passions is a myth. When we become professionals, there are aspects of our crafts that we’d rather not do. If we’re working on the job that we don’t like, we’re just doing the majority of the task that we hate even though there are portions that we like. The wiser option would be to work on our day job, develop our skills and experiences for our dream job, and then have a plan to move on our desired profession slowly but surely whether it’s acting, writing, singing, painting, etc.

I used to abhor this idea of working just to pay the bills. I thought I would be better off following my desire to write without worrying about work. Years later, my priorities have shifted. I realized that it’s easier to do what we want when we have money to spend for the lessons and materials. It’s a matter of shifting things around so that we can pursue our passions while paying the bills. Similarly, it’s the difference between Stephen King and John Grisham. Stephen King worked as a janitor while writing on the side. John Grisham was a lawyer before he became a full time writer. One definitely lived more comfortably than the other.

We have to be prudent when it comes to pursuing what we want. We can’t just drop everything to follow our dreams. Most of us have bills to pay. It’s easier to pursue our passions when we have money to fund it. If we pursue our passions, we will eventually earn more money using that particular skills. The moment that our passions could sustain us financially is the time to let go of the old job. It would take focus but it’s easier to do what we want when we have the money in our pocket.

Money gives us freedom to do what we want. We should not ignore its value. This money could and should help us sustain our passions until we’re able to make a transition doing what we want to do.

Balancing Act

February 23, 2016
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Finding a balance is just a myth. There are seasons when we get so busy that everything in our plate is just falling apart. There are also times when we don’t have a lot of things to do. This situation is what I would call balance—a time to get busy and a time to play. As professional artists, it means that we’re constantly figuring out how to maximize our time given our situation. Still, even when I’m busy, I’m able to make time for the things that I find important. While it’s not easy, I do my best to make it work.

When people say that they’re busy and they don’t have time to do the things they want, the truth is it’s just not a priority. Whether it’s trying to write a novel or paint or sculpt, if we say that we want to do them but we don’t have the time, it means that it’s not our priority. We’re using time as an excuse—the oldest excuse in the book.

You have to figure out the things that are important to you and the things that aren’t. Is trying to learn an instrument just a wish? or are you serious to learn? Do you really want to become a painter or are you so dissatisfied with your job that you dream of doing something else? If you really want to do something, you have to find and make time for it. Being busy is just an excuse. What that really means is that I have so many things to do and this current activity that I seem to want to do is just a waste of time. So, are you really busy?

Broomstick Lace

February 22, 2016
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Broomstick lace is one of the easiest yet most versatile crochet technique you will ever learn. Using a gigantic knitting needle (a ruler would also be a good substitute) and a crochet hook, you could create endless things such as a top, a cell phone case, an eyeglass case, and jewelry. It requires a basic knowledge of crochet. After that, the possibilities are endless.

Right now, I’m trying to create a beanie using this technique. I started out at an increase but I figured that it’s better to create it through decrease—I only have one needle available as I’m using the other needle for a different broomstick lace project—my first attempt to ever make a top.

It’s a lot less intimidating than it looks once you got a good grasp of it. It’s pretty simple and yet the design itself is beautiful. If you find yourself scared to use this technique, try a simple project such as a necklace or a bracelet. You might find it as enjoyable as I do.

Beautiful doesn’t always mean it’s complicated. Broomstick lace is a simple technique but it creates a very beautiful design. It’s not as ornate as Bruges lace but it’s simple and strong enough that you can make bags using this technique. Try it and see if you like it.

Cursed Tasks

February 19, 2016
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There were things that is necessary for us to do even if we hate doing them if we really want to be successful in our crafts. One of those things is organizing.

Just because you love everything about the craft doesn’t mean that you’re going to like everything about it. If you want to be a professional, there are some aspects of your craft that you wouldn’t like. Whether it’s organizing or doing interviews, there would be things that you don’t like to do but are necessary in order to get things the way they are.

Sometimes, people think that if they abandon their current jobs and try to make a living off something they really like that it’s going to be smooth sailing. That is not the case. People still have to promote their products, organize their things, balance their budgets, etc. Not everybody would love to do those things. Nevertheless, they’re necessary for people that are turning pro.

There are things that are necessary evil in people’s lives. You can’t help it but they’re necessary if people would like to make money through art—at least in the beginning. You have to conquer your fear if you wish to become successful in your craft. For example, if you hate talking to other people, you have to learn how to talk to other people politely as a way to advertise.

In my case, it’s trying to organize my things. A few weeks ago, I was writing the pattern for a beanie I made. I couldn’t remember the yarn and the color I used. Thankfully, the yarn’s website has all the color for the yarn. I was able to recreate the pattern. That afternoon, I spent my time cataloging my yarn collection.

There are things that we need to do that we don’t necessarily like if we were to become professional. Even after we receive the level of success, there would be days when we would rather have a root canal than do a certain task. While we like one aspect of our work, we won’t necessarily like everything we’re doing on our perspective occupations.

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