My birthday comes soon. I used to love writing. I used to love reading.

Before the internet, reading was my escape. I got glasses because I devoured books. But with the advent of the phone, social media, digital reading, and everything in between, I lost the art of writing and reading. But somewhere along the way, I have forgotten both ways of being.

I realized this when my wife told me my handwriting sucks. I used to pride myself in being able to write in 6 different cursive styles, but my original style got lost in the way with the amalgamation of everything. I have been doing. I take copious notes, but my handwriting sucks now because it’s all the keyboard typing.

So, as I grow older, I am trying to return to the roots of what I used to do and do it for the joy. Not for the end result I have been obsessed with.

Starting today, at least for the next 30 days, I’ll write about something every day. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I hope I will enjoy writing it.

Today’s thoughts are on getting good. Getting started is more critical, but getting good is a path that isn’t often clear. One way to do great stuff is to copy great stuff.

Look at the top people, see what they do, and try to copy it. This thing holds true in doing anything well. But for the longest time, I had it stuck in my head that the best way to do something was to do it initially. I was obsessed with the idea of Jony Ive coming up with these designs, and thus, I’ll never be a good designer because I didn’t do something original. But he borrowed from Dieter Rams who borrowed from his grandfather and so on.

Apes mimic each other. Humans copy stuff from each other.

Copy stuff = By Sebastiaan De With Copy stuff! I honestly did nothing more than copy the work of artists I admired, whether that was in my young years of making weird Photoshop-stoner-art to being fascinated with icon and interface design. To get a great idea of how things are made and what the artists were thinking as they made it, you can go through their process by… retracing their steps! Once your techniques are better thanks to that, you can introduce all your own ideas, and they’ll flow readily through your now-competent fingers. Musicians always learn by playing existing songs. For some reason, in visual design, we are expected to just produce tons of original content out of nowhere. It’s not a productive attitude: to learn the most, you should study work that really resonates with you and absorb it by trying to reproduce it. No shame in that!