My Maker Mantra for the New Year


As the new year dawns, I’ve been reflecting on my personal habits and on how I approach making. I’ve said in the past that:

I’d rather make something new than repair something;

I’d rather repair something than maintain something;

I’d rather maintain something than clean something.

I’m usually energized when approaching a new project, but sometimes unenthusiastic about doing necessary but less exciting work.

It occurs to me that giving in to these tendencies is counterproductive and makes me a less effective maker. It may be fun to bounce from project to project, but it would be more productive to keep my work area clean and maintained and more fulfilling to complete the projects I start.

So for the new year, I’m adopting a new maker mantra, which turns my old approach on its ear:

Clean what you mess;

Maintain what you have;

Fix what you can;

Make what you love.

Finish what you start.

Or, if you need something even shorter to remind you:

Clean; Maintain; Fix; Make. Finish.

I’m hoping this new attitude is something that will help me become a better maker and a better person. By having the discipline to spend time on the things that are necessary, but don’t really get me excited, I’ll actually wind up with more time for making (and completing) worthwhile projects. That will be much more gratifying.

So how do you feel about this mantra? Do you have shelves of unfinished projects about your house and workshop? Or have you ever felt this way and found your own way through it? Write in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!


Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

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