How I make time to create, or at least try

On the blog of SharonB she had a post that discussed some of the tricks she uses to be productive in her work as a crazy quilter. So I thought I’d consider sharing some of the tricks I use. Plus I also want to discuss some of my views in relationship to her earlier exchange about being an artist and how the decorative arts have been regarded as less important. But that will be tomorrow’s topic. Here I discuss some of the ways I get things done.

First off, one of the things I’ve realized is that I can’t sit and just work with my hands and have nothing else going on. My mind is too busy, and too many of the crafts I enjoy have aspects where they only occupy part of my attention. Now, I should emphasize that this is part of their attraction, as well, in that I can be listening to something and yet also have my hands busy making something. So going off by myself in the way that she mentions, setting it apart with a workspace and work time, is a little less attractive to me. My hobbies are work, but they are pleasurable work that I choose to do, not because this is how I pay the bills. Therefore, setting aside a time and place to do them in that way would never work for me.

This doesn’t mean that setting a time for it is not a good idea. But I work it out in other ways. For example, one of the aspects of these crafts that I enjoy is the social aspect of connecting with other people who like the same things. Plus, meeting with people gives a certain amount of accountability. Therefore I have set up “appointments” at lunchtime when I’m at work or on a Saturday at home, when I meet with other people who have the same interests as I, and we sit together and work on whatever is in progress. They are not required appointments, but I am committed to them. Since I have such a variety of textile hobbies, and some of them get less attention at times, this is one of the mechanisms I use to ensure that I continue to make progress even on the things that are not my top focus right now. As in, my cross-stitch is one of those that is lower on the totem pole at this time, so the lunch meeting of other stitchers is the only time of the week when I work on my piece. But I continue to make slow, steady progress as a result. It won’t be done quickly, but then I don’t require quickly, and it will eventually be done.

Now this setting up of appointments doesn’t always work. Some things don’t travel well, so these must be done at home, but I do have my craft Saturday where I invite people to my house once a month to work on whatever is in progress. Same idea, different venue, and it certainly helps. And those things that do travel well — well, I try to always have something small in my purse or big bag that I can work on.

But it doesn’t completely fix the problem. And there is a problem. Some of my work is complex enough or new enough to require my full attention and a certain amount of uninterrupted time, and therefore cannot be done with serious distractions present. Therefore this work has been set aside and I haven’t returned to it in months. And I don’t like this.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t actually work on things at home. My knitting has been a primary focus for a while now, and I do work on it at home, as well as my spinning. But the quilting and sewing have been somewhat in the back seat. And the spinning has also been erratic, not consistent. And as mentioned above, the cross-stitch is only during that one hour a week.

Somehow I need to set aside an appointment time with myself here at home to work on these things that have been set aside so I can make progress there too. My dream is actually to take some time off from work just to stay home and work on these things. But even that dream has its limitations, and consistent work, even done in small increments, is far better than one big burst. (Which doesn’t mean I won’t figure out a way to have a few days off like that, but it won’t happen soon, and I’m not planning on waiting for it.)

I do love my hobbies — that’s part of a later post — and I respect myself as someone who creates things (although I don’t really think of myself primarily as an artist), so they are important enough for me to figure out a way to do this. I’m just not sure how to achieve it yet.

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