You can conquer the learning curve!

I’ve been busy preparing for our podcast launch.

Much of the work has come naturally and is more fun than it is work: social media planning and posting, brainstorming ideas for podcast episodes, writing program notes, and having and recording our conversations about sexual intimacy in Christian marriages.

One thing, however, has been a challenge for me: sound editing. I came to this with absolutely no experience working with sound. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

It wasn’t too hard to figure out how to record our conversations, and I even figured out how to open an audio file in a sound editing program. Beyond that, though, I was clueless. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.

At first, I thought my lack of knowledge was largely technical. I figured I just didn’t know how to work the editing program. The instructions I found were very clear, except for one thing: I didn’t understand any of the concepts being explained.

I didn’t just have no idea what I was doing, I didn’t even know what I should want to be doing. Other than a vague “get rid of verbal clutter,” I had no idea of the features of a well-edited podcast episode or of the basic concepts of sound editing.

I faced a steep learning curve.

If I’d been planning on doing this podcast alone and if I hadn’t announced it on my blog, I probably would’ve given up. It’s too hard would’ve turned into This just isn’t my thing and maybe even into God must not want me to do this right now.

Fortunately, I had announced it and I knew others were counting on me, so I forced myself to figure out how to do what I needed to do.

The Sound Editing Learning Curve

Four things helped me conquer the learning curve.

1. I got help.

It was pretty clear that I wouldn’t be able to figure this out on my own, so I sought help.

First, I went to a friend. J (from Hot, Holy & Humorous) spent several hours Skyping with me, walking me through some basics and teaching me some concepts as we went along. When I later had questions or needed to check on something, I went back to her with follow-up questions.

Second, I looked for good step-by-step instructions from credible sources, including the software support site and articles from folks who know a lot about podcasting. As I learned concepts and editing tools from J, I went online to increase my understanding of what she’d taught me and what I was doing.

2. I did the work.

As much as I wanted to avoid it, I forced myself to open the editing software and do it. After all, a podcast recording wouldn’t edit itself. I practiced, even to the point of asking my daughter to have short Skype conversations with me so I would have audio files for experimentation.

Each time I encountered something that I didn’t know how to do or that didn’t work, I went back for helping, looking at the support website and asking J more questions.

I was often overwhelmed. It took me multiple hours over three days just to get through the first ten minutes of one episode. At one point, I sat staring at the bulk of the not-yet-edited episode and wondered how I would possible find the time to get through it all.

3. I allowed myself to face my failings.

This wasn’t easy for me. I don’t like to fail at things, and that’s exactly what I had to do. Most people call it trial and error, but there is part of me that views it more as an on-going encounter with mistakes and failure.

This went beyond failing with the task at hand. You know how most people say they don’t like the sound of their own recorded voice? Yeah. Well, imagine having to listen to yourself carefully as you edit a podcast episode. I not only had to hear my own voice, I came face to face with my own tendency to say “um” and talk over other people. Sigh.

See that tan area? That’s me saying “um.”

It’s one thing to know you say “um” a lot. It’s a whole other thing to see the proof. I’d like to say that coming face to face with my “um” habit has made me change how I speak. That hasn’t happened yet, but I have learned how to identity my “um” on screen and delete it cleanly.

4. I let accountability keep me on track.

I’d like to say that I was internally motivated to figure this out, but that wasn’t the case.

Knowing that if I didn’t get this figured out I would be letting down J, Bonny, and Gaye was a big part of why I kept going. I imagined myself having to face them all in a Skype conversation and see the disappointment on their faces that I didn’t do my share of the work.

As I got more confident, I found that I did develop that internal motivation. I’ve started to try some things just to see how they work, and I’m finding personal satisfaction in the challenge. Accountability helped me get going, but now that I have enough momentum, it is less essential.

Progress!

I always say that slow progress is still progress. Every time I saw that I’d gotten through another two minutes of the recording, I reminded myself to feel encouraged that I was moving forward.

It took me long chunks of time over several days to get through the first ten minutes of the first episode I was editing. Then I sat down on another day, expecting to make just a little more progress—and I got through another fifteen minutes in just one sitting.

I realized that some of the technical stuff had become automatic. I wasn’t trying to do anything fancy, but I saw that I’d actually learned the basics. And then I took several different sound files and spliced them together, which was like leveling up to a whole new category of audio work.

The Learning Curve with Sex

This isn’t unlike the learning curve some of us face when we work on the sexual intimacy in our marriages.

The learning curve is steep and can be overwhelming.

The problem isn’t usually a technical how-to kind of thing. It’s more about having an idea of what a healthy sexual intimacy even looks like. What should I even be trying to do?

It’s too hard can turn into This just isn’t my thing and maybe even into God must not want me to do this right now.

Fortunately, the same things that helped me conquer the sound editing learning curve can help you if you face a learning curve with sex.

Get help.

Learning doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Talk to other Christian women who are sex-positive and seem to have good marriages. Ask for help in understanding how a healthy marriage looks. Ask for guidance.

If you are carrying pain or baggage that interferes with your marriage bed, go to credible sources of support, including your pastor or a professional counselor.

Pray. What seems impossible on your own is possible with God.

Do the work.

As nice as it would be, the sexual intimacy in your marriage isn’t likely to fix itself. It may take some practice and relearning, but keep at it even when it takes you a while or when it’s hard.

Just keep at it. Practice where you need to. If you struggle to focus on sex and be in the moment, begin by focusing and being in the moment when you’re doing non-sexual things. If you’re trying a new position or activity, don’t give up. Keep trying it until you figure it out.

Allow yourself to face your failings. 

You may find that you make a lot of mistakes, despite your good intentions. You may tell yourself that you will be open to doing something new with your husband, only to find yourself reacting to him in a way that shuts down any intimacy at all.

In the process of learning how to improve the sexual intimacy in your marriage, you are likely to come face to face with some of your bad habits. It isn’t pleasant, but remember that when you become aware of something, you can learn to deal with it.

Be accountable.

Have someone who will ask you from time to time how you’re doing in your efforts to improve sexual intimacy. Make sure you know who you can go to when you’re struggling to stay on track.

If you can’t bring yourself to work on sex for your own sake, then start out by doing it for your husband. As you gain momentum, you may find that you keep on going more for your own sake and for the enjoyment and not just for him.

Progress!

Slow progress is still progress.

You may find that the early efforts to improve the sexual intimacy in your marriage take a while and are pretty challenging—but every time you see that you’ve done something new, or stuck with something longer than in the past, feel encouraged that your effort is working.

There will come a day when you realize that much of your new thinking has become automatic.

When you first face a steep learning curve, it can be overwhelming.

Be encouraged, and know that you really can conquer the learning curve—even when it comes to sexual intimacy.

Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 Thoughts on “The Learning Curve

  1. I think the biggest thing not mentioned here, or its assumed, is – you have to WANT to do this.

    In fact, this applies to everything. If your attitude is “eh, it really doesn’t matter”, or “That ain’t me”, or “This way low on my priority list”, it doesn’t matter about the rest of the stuff, because you won’t do any of it.

    There is no learning curve if you don’t even get on the journey, or even step up to the starting line. Unfortunately thats where my wife is right now, and no amount of talking, arguing, begging, pleading, or crying will ever push her off the starting line.

    • True–and I easily could’ve decided not to bother with the whole thing. As is the case with my entire blog, this post is for women who have already decided to get on the journey.

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