How to Learn Anything
- Decide what you want to learn. But you can't know exactly, because of course you don't know exactly how any field is structured until you know all about it.
- Read everything you can on it, especially what you enjoy, since that way you can read more of it and faster
- Grab for insights. Regardless of points others are trying to make, when you recognise an insight that has meaning for you, make it your own. It may have to do with the shape of molecules, or the personality of a specific emperor, or the quirks of a Great Woman in the Field. Its importance is not how central it is, but how clear and interesting and memorable it is to you. Remember it. Then go for another.
- Tie insights together. Soon you will have your own string of insights in a field, like a string a lights around a Christmas tree.
- Concentrate on magazines, not books. Magazines have far more insights per inch of text, and can be read much faster. But when a book really speaks to you, lavish attention on it.
- Find your own special topics, and pursue them.
- Go for conventions. For some reason, conventions are splendid concentrated way to learn things; talking to people helps.
- Find your woman. Somewhere in the world is someone who will answer your questions extraordinarily well. If you find her, follow her.
- Keep improving your questions. Probably in your head there are questions that don't seem to line up with what you're hearing. Don't assume that you don't understand, keep adjusting the questions till you get an answer that related to what you wanted.
- Your field is bounded where you want it to be. Just because others group and stereotype things in conventional ways does not mean they are necessarily right. Intellectual subjects are connected every whichway; your field is what you think it is.
A typeface is like a chair
- A page is like a room, type is like furniture, and a typeface is like a chair.
- Chairs and typefaces are designed to fulfill a purpose.
- The user knows immediately when they aren’t right for the purpose, though they may not be able to explain why.
- Furniture design and typeface design are crafts.
- Both crafts require good taste.
- Both crafts require technical proficiency.
- For most purposes, both crafts require restraint.
- A chair or typeface can be decorative to varying degrees but must be functional.
- The best chairs and typefaces have an appropriate balance of form and function.
- Very small changes in proportion make a big difference.
- You can misuse a chair and you can misuse a typeface.
- Context matters: a lounge chair doesn’t work at a dining table, Papyrus doesn’t work in a business letter.
- Audience matters: a chair must hold the weight and size of the sitter, a typeface must hold the attention of the reader.
- Everyone needs them every day.
- There isn’t a perfect one.
The more you fail in private, the less you will fail in public. In many ways, the creative act is editing. You're editing out all the lame ideas that won't resonate with the public. (p. 213)
Tharp, T. (2003). The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life: A Practical Guide. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.