Monday, May 30, 2011

Enlightenment

I've been struggling with being creative lately. Making even a small consistent effort seems difficult and  I've been completely lacking in the motivation department.  I've been experiencing a backlash against my self imposed "I must produce a crap load of  things in order to be interesting in Blogland " rule. It seems that being idle  is somehow linked in my psyche to being a slob. And nobody likes a slob. And I want to be liked. I'm just full of insecurity aren't I?

With  other parts of my life  moving at  the  speed of light and my head in constant thought about all manner of things  it seems I just don't have room to be creative. It's like "being crafty" is just another thing on my list of things to get done which means it's more of a chore than a pleasure. I'm even having trouble stringing together blog posts. I have ideas but my words refuse to bend themselves into cohesive writing to match the dialogue in my head.What I do know is that I run around like a hairy goat Monday to Friday and I'm starting to feel some self imposed pressure to achieve when I'm not at work as well.

During my current phase of I cant be bothered-itis I've read some interesting posts that resonated with my current predicament. It seems I'm not the only one suffering from crafters block and questioning the thought that I have to  "produce produce produce" and finish something every five minutes  in order to feel like I'm a fully fledged member of the crafting community.

I've been running a race against myself trying to get more quilts done this year than I got done last year. I'm not sure why. What I do know is ,  I'm there - and it doesn't feel half as triumphant as I thought it would.

I've realised over the last few weeks that making things isn't a means to an end for me. When my great great grandmother made something she did it for practicality . It wasn't about filling her spare time  or just to see if she  could.  A quilt for my great great grandmother  probably meant the difference between being warm or freezing in winter.  In modern creativity, progress has somehow become a less valid part of the process  because we aren't making things for the sake of function. 

Kris started my thoughts churning by talking about the process of making things and getting them to a finish.  She postulated that we don't celebrate the "getting there " part enough.  Guilty as charged here at Maison Pyjamas. I'm almost always thinking about the end product and the next project or all the other things I "should" be doing and so I don't enjoy the journey as much as I could. In reading Kris's thoughts on the subject I realised that I'm limiting my experience by not celebrating and enjoying more steps along the way.

Like Shell, I've been paralysed and felt the pressure of too many ideas or too many irons in the crafting fire.   I can't count the number of blog posts I see about the amount of WIP's people are struggling with or all the things they want to get done.  I think we should refuse to feel guilt about WIP's. Guilt just creates more pressure to finish.  We're not in competition with each other to win "awesome crafter of the year".   And again there's that recurring theme about having something to show every week or two  that's "finished". Shell has vowed to get back to slow crafting and enjoying the journey. That's something I need to think about doing too.


And Lisa wrote a post recently about difficult vs time consuming which made me change my head space a little around some future projects.  I've been thinking "I cant do that - it's too hard - my quilting /sewing skills aren't that good-it'll take forever ". Then I got to thinking it's all about changing and growing and developing and I'm not going to do that if I don't challenge myself every now and then. Quilting is just maths with fabric. If I join Point A and Point B in a consistent way it'll turn out. The only person I'm answerable to  is me. If it takes me a year to finish something or it's not perfect the quilting police aren't going to come and lock me in quilting prison. So again, I've been  limiting myself by thinking "too hard" when in fact it's just time consuming. And isn't time all any of us have when you really get down to it?

So I'm going to remember while I'm running  this race  that you always win a race against yourself no matter how long it takes. Even when  you stop and  smell the roses along the way.

34 comments:

Seams Inspired said...

So does this mean you're going to try to sew something like lacy underwear? ;o)

Take your time. Quilt when you can, or when the mood strikes. Your bloggy friends love you no matter what you sew...or don't sew. :o)

PS...DH is wondering why I'm guffawing, and I'm trying to explain the running around like a hairy goat. Happy Monday!

Kelli said...

Hey mate! I know EXACTLY what you mean! It is the journey not the destination. I must admit, this is the reason I am so slack with my blog, BUT I am enjoying my sewing so much more now!

Jenn said...

We are our OWN quilting police, aren't we!!! Nice to follow your thoughts here - i've been down that road, too, but in a different sense, because when I want to 'make' something, there has to be a purpose behind it, or I just never do it. That's why I started selling my things because I wanted to make, make, make but then there was nothing to do with those things - no one really wanted them because I'm pretty much a hermit and don't interact with many folks and I also don't have much family...therefore, the birth of the etsy shop! It's still a struggle but in a different way. It was nice to see your thinking!! Good for yoU! :)

P. said...

I totally get what you're saying, having had many of the same thoughts myself. Do what makes you happy when you feel like it, whether it's this week, next month, or in a year. Enjoy the process. We're not going anywhere. You will be my role model.

Jackie said...

I have to say, I don't feel like I'm running a race. A race is all about the finish line. I so enjoy the process - it's the sanity in my stressful work day. It definitely sounds like you've become very focused on finishing that you may not be having fun anymore. I hope you get to the spot where you can find the fun again!

thea said...

I am sorry you are feeling so much pressure in the crafty area.

I confess that I look forward to the finish -- but usually I'm giving the quilt away so I only get to have it for a few days before it's gone.

I really enjoy all your blog posts. I think the first one I read of yours was the tutorial on how to change the toilet paper roll and I loved your translation thursdays ..

There aren't really quilting police are there? If they exist they'll be knocking at my door soon.. :)

thanks for sharing.

Amanda said...

I've been taking a step back too this week. Feeling less under pressure about all the things I need to finish in the next 2 months and just getting on with it. It has meant that I haven't blogged much over the last week, haven't joined in my usual bloggy things but I am not feeling the pressure to perform by doing it and if I didn't have a really sore back at the moment I would be enjoying the sewing lol. The top for applique class is finished I have set the deadline for the alternative project to after I have finished a couple of other projects and in a months time I have Inspired Stitches to look forward to so I am stopping to smell the roses too.

Marg said...

Hear hear, i couldn't agree more. If you are constantly trying to churn out something, you certainly don't enjoy the time spent doing it. I am trying to take up that thought process as well, as I do tend to put way too much pressure on myself to finish something. Having said that, I find blogging does make me finish things, that I would probably have put in the UFO pile. Blogging gives me a bit more accountability, which I need. I'm finding now that rather than finishing the project, finishing part of the project is more important to me. Taking it in bite size chunks, journalling it, and completing each part of the process is satisfying rather than the alternative of not being happy until it's finished.

9patchnurse said...

I know just how you feel. I try hard to enjoy the process but I get caught up thinking about how many things I want to make and then I stall. And I suffer that guilt problem too worrying if I am 'blog worthy'. Then I remind myself that the blog is another way for me to express myself and it's not to impress people. Sometimes we just have to step back and wait for the spark, the mojo, the urge to create. It always comes back.

JKP said...

I heard once, the only race you need to win is the one against yourself, which is pretty much what you've said here. Mistress of the Obvious, I am.

That's what I've been telling myself for the past two months. It meant letting some things go...enter guilt, disgust with myself, the desire to be Super Woman, but in reality it was for the best. The days fly by, and sometimes the important thing is to enjoy the time while it's there. It's gone far too fast.

Michelle Ridgway said...

I agree Shay. Smelling the roses along the way is a very vital part of the journey. I'm sure the women bouncing across the praire in their covered wagon weren't trying to sew more quilts than 2 wagons down. Just keep warm. It's important to remember why we make quilts and just enjoy it. I could drive myself to the loony bin if I tried to keep up with other designers out there...who have stitchers to sew for them wacko you beaut printing media....so I don't. I say good luck and bless them but I can only be myself and do what I do best and if I am always behind the latest trend...so be it. I love your blog Shay for your humour and unique slant on life not because you can churn out umpteen projects at once.
The only person you have to please is you. Be kind to you.
Blessings Michelle

Tracy said...

Shay,
I think we all go through that phase...I've not been writing much either because I just don't 'feel it'-but I also know THIS TOO SHALL PASS!
it's okay...

Char said...

Great post Shay. I've been having the same problem lately, nothing is getting finished and I haven't had time to write a good blog post in a while. I started quilting and blogging because I enjoy it, not to keep up with others or have the best blog in blog land. So when things get back to normal here I'm sure there will be a finish and if not, that's ok too.

Lorraine said...

Good...I am glad you are feeling the pressure...now you might think about not putting yourself under so much pressure! We don't expect you to be the quilting queen of finishes......oh sorry...perfect finishes! I have come to the realisation that I may never finish some of the things that I have started....and that's ok too...I went thru a stage of thinking if I didn't have a quilting project to "talk" about on my blog I couldn't blog.... that's not why I started my blog but that was where it seemed to be going....finishes = blog posts.....just be you....write about whatever you like..if it's a finish - fine...if its about the footy fine...actually no...not fine...but you probably wouldn't want to write about that at the moment anyway..LOLOLOL - so no pressure Miss Shay....enjoy the journey....even the hairy goat stuff.....!

Jennifer said...

You have definitely struck a chord with many people, it seems! For me, making something.....anything.....is as much about the journey as the destination. I know it will be finished eventually and I refuse to feel guilty about the fact that it isn't finished, or even why it isn't finished. I like to stop to smell the roses (and pat the wombats) along the way!

Logopaedchen/Kirsten said...

Do you mind if I copy and translate your post and than put it in my blog. It would make my currently in work blog post so much easier...I was just startng to write about feeling all that prssure. It´s weird, but sometimes I feel I have to do something just in order to be able to write a post. We are so insane. We forget to live about all this blogging.

Mistea said...

Good to see you are not that different to everyone else.
My motto is any time spent on a creative project is time well spent and they don't always get finished. Though you probably noticed I do a lot of small things - it means I don't have to focus on one thing for very long.
Hope you unperfect yourself and have a go at some of those projects which you previously considered difficult but in little bits may actually be achievable.
Enjoy playing with the fabric surely you don't need another quilt right now!

Deb said...

Wahoo, well done you! Take a bow and join the club which as we have found out recently is not exclusive, but reality. Stop the pressure on yourself, you will feel so much better, I promise but get yourself something to look forward too also which has something to do with your craft. I have decided I am going to go to a Quilting Retreat next year in March in Tassie, if possible.

Sara said...

I do worry sometimes that I tie my sense of self a little too tightly to what I can create - "I am Sara, I sew stuff" kindof thing. But I don't really start projects unless I feel like them - with the exception of one or two commission pieces, every quilt I have made has just been for the sake of making it, because I liked the fabrics or the design in my head or I was interested in trying the techniques. It's usually only when I get partway through and realise I'm not liking it as much as I thought I would that I might start to struggle.

I think that could be a part of why I go for simpler quilts, so that when I decide I don't like them any more I don't feel so much like I've wasted the time. With something from a shop, we're quite content with accepting it as it is, but when it's all up to us, a green that is two shades off can seem catastrophic - I've got more than one imminent project that's waiting on the one right fabric before I make a start on it. I spend a lot of time umming and ahhing before I start.

I spend more time second guessing my choices than I do getting the actual sewing done, but, I enjoy that process a lot more than the actual sewing. To me, the actual sewing is just a means to an end - it's the concept, and the math, and the fabric selection that I enjoy the most, for all that it can feel like I'm getting nowhere just coming up with yet another project for "one day" - but I think sometimes we feel like we're getting nowhere when actually we're making the most progress.

Kate said...

Not much I can add to the discussion other than to pass along a quote that I heard last week which pretty much states what most of us aspire to, but struggle with.

From "old" Spock to "young" Spock in the last Star Trek movie "Do yourself a favor and do what feels right".

AnnieO said...

My first quilting teacher emphasized to all her students that we should all enjoy the PROCESS and not focus just on a finish. This is a slightly difficult concept and I am not sure I am there yet, but I do think about it with each project.

I hope you find a more comfortable crafty mindset that lets you enjoy what you're working on (or not working on) at the moment! Crafty mojo waxes and wanes and there is nothing bad about that.

73mw said...

Holy Moley!!! From one hairy goat to another - really, there has to be a more fitting analogy - I've now spent over half an hour reading this post, reading the links (including my own lol - thank you, I'm humbled) and then reading the comments.

Shay you could be writing about standing in the middle of the garden, scratching your billy goat head and it would still be interesting - quilting goodness or no quilting goodness, because you have a way with words and a way with life :o)

I love what Marg wrote about journalling the bite size pieces - keeping it real and achievable. I don't want to cut back on blogging so much cos I love the friendships I've made, but I'm not friends with with blogging friends because they make awesome quilts, I'm friends with them because they're just great people who happen to share a common interest and often have a similar warped sense of humour :o)

I hear you, I heart you and I hope as you've obviously been doing some of that thought sifting yourself (lol) that you find your own bliss both in finishes and in the process.

And I hear that part of the journey is rugby tackling elderly ladies! Who would have thought!!!

73mw said...

ps if we keep on like this we are going to have to start a group called the zen quilters - our motto... it's all about the journey man... right on.

rofpmslol xxxxx

Michelle said...

Your words resonate with me Shay--on a couple of levels. First off, I've always had trouble being a "finisher". Yes, I do finish projects from time to time, but rarely in a straight line. There can be a lot of time between the start and the actual finish--often because I've become inspired by something else, or life makes its presence known.

And, I can really relate to not having room in your head for being creative. Since my life was up-ended coming up on a year in August, I have yet to feel settled. So much going on that even if I do have time to be creative, my head is filled with other things.

Bottom line: craftiness should not be yet another chore.

Kristie said...

Stop whining and start sewing!!

(just kidding)

I had a mini breakdown not too long ago along these lines, and have cut my blog post in about half. When I get on a roll, I make things like nuts and enjoy it, but if I want to just sit and watch t.v., AND just SIT and watch t.v. (not also knit, hand stitch etc), then I just do it! But I realize I have to actually cut down on my computer time as well....tough to do ;) And I agree about the journey- as I get more experienced, I would like to challenge myself more, but I worry, what if it takes me 2 or 3 months straight to finish this? Well, then I guess my "real" blog friends will wait, and who cares about the rest??

Angie said...

Come on, girl, lighten up on yourself, give yourself a break---you could be like me and have a 'finish' every couple of years or so!!! LOL I'm the Queen of UFOs!

Brenda said...

Great post! I am feeling a bit un-creative myself with my daughter and her three sweet kids staying here for 6 weeks. It's fun, but pretty exhausting and time AND brain consuming. Somehow my projects just keep piling up!

Shay said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. The decision not to be a sewing demon unless I want to has come after much soul searching. I love being creative but I havent been enjoying the process as much as I should and since much of my week is tied up with other things I have to do , I want my "spare" time to mean something in terms of giving me balance. That doesnt happen if I feel obligated to sew or quilt.

There is so much going on at Maision Pyjamas at the moment that craftiness may have to take a lesser role than it has for a while which makes the process of creating even more of a priority.

Thankyou for your support! Im overcome with the amazing nature of people that drop in here to read my antics.

Lynelle Slade said...

I have to watch myself when I read to many beautiful blogs - they're meant to inspire but sometimes they have the opposite effect. Make me worry about what I'm not getting done, why my sewing space isn't 'to die for'... all the usual.
And I remind myself, isn't this sewing thing my HOBBY, something I do because I enjoy it? I think sometimes we buy into the 'you can have it all, be it all, do it all' mantra that modern women are subjected to and then when we discover that we fall short of that, we get all hard on ourselves.
I've really had to take a chill pill with a broken arm - NOTHING HAPPENING HERE!
Breath in, breath out.

Jenny said...

Love the comment about the zen quilters...it's all about the journey! Good advice, I think! I need to get some stuff done but it's just so much simpler to watch inane TV.

Marie said...

Shay --
Since I'm an over-booked under-achiever and in the last 5 months I've realized I just can't do it all. I tried and it's just not worth it, so I pick the stuff that needs to be done and the stuff that I like doing.
I've come to realize a clean house, a weed free garden, perfectly pressed clothing, perfected pieced quilts are just plain stuff....
And yep, gotta remind myself about the "stuff" every flipping day!

M

Kris said...

Lots of comments here Shay, I think people do like you! (I must admit I do and I know you in real life) It is an interesting journey for sure. I have managed to post more often this month and am quite happy with where I am and my wips. Oh. And I bought more fabric today (5 metres of it) and I'm fine with that too. ;)

Lynne said...

Thank you for a thought-provoking, interesting post.

I have to remind myself and my DD (we are both novice quilters) that we are working on our quilts because we are learning something and enjoying the process - all that is required is that we do the best we can on the day and enjoy doing it (most of the time); perfection is not the goal.

ladybugquilting said...

I am so glad that others are feeling the 'burnout'. I was adding it to my feeling of uselessness!
Thanks for the therapy session, cheques in the mail.