What counts as making?

As I pursue becoming a maker of things, the two things I want to make are software and writing. If I can spend time making those two things, I’ll be happy.

Obviously you can make more than those things, and for anyone reading this I want to be generous with my definition of “making”. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what I think we can include:

  • writing, which I mean in the almost limitless fashion that includes “the Great American Novel”, screenplays, and 10,000-word blog posts but also fan fiction, appliance manuals, etc.
  • coding
  • running a home media server
  • starting a business
  • film or video
  • music, including performances of pieces you didn’t yourself write
  • a podcast
  • handcrafts
  • woodworking
  • metalworking
  • social media posts are borderline, but if you’re doing it in a systematic way and not just for marketing, chit-chat, or blowing off steam, it counts
  • photography (it’s not all phone snaps)
  • illustration
  • learning to cook new meals or improve your skills in what you already know how to cook
  • science experiments
  • home decoration and design

I would also consider the following as making, or at least making-adjacent. Their inclusion may be controversial as they arguably don’t produce some external artifact for others’ enjoyment, but for many people they offer the same types of satisfaction that making does: purpose, fulfillment, legacy, impact, sense of progress, agency, a valuable way to spend finite time on this earth.

  • athletics, or at least fitness with emphasis on improvement, technique, and maybe participation in some group activity
  • teaching

This should go without saying in the age of open-source software and ubiquitous blogging/microblogging, but whether or not you make money from something does not factor into whether it’s “making.”