All of the images in this post are of toys I’ve made years and years ago. Some of them I made many, many times.
I want to write a post about fear. Creative fear. In particular, the fear of stopping making the things you make right now. Have you felt that fear? That feeling like you have to keep making what you already make, what you’ve become known for making, because if you stop you’ll fade into oblivion, or you won’t sell enough, or anything, and people will stop reading what you have to say or looking at your pictures.
But then, when you have a few hours and you are ready to start making something, you wonder, “Maybe I could make something different? Maybe I could create a new pattern? Or try to make something really big?”. And your mind starts working, visualizing how the new piece might look and you start getting excited. You sit down to start sketching, making little notes in the margin about how this new thing might be created.
And then you pause for a minute and look at the page and it just looks really complicated. It looks like there are probably going to be some big problems in there to solve. It’s going to take a lot of time to figure this out and it might not work at all. And let’s face it, you might not be skilled enough to make this new thing come to life.
And what if you devote these precious hours or the next few days or weeks to it and in the end it turns out to be nothing. In the meantime, you haven’t been making the thing you’re know for, the thing you always make. And after all that effort you have nothing pretty to take pictures of, nothing to write about, nothing new to sell. Those blog stats are slipping, you can feel it.
And so you get up from your desk, and leave the sketch book behind. You reach for the same materials and the same pattern you’ve been using for years and start cutting out yet another one. It’s familiar and, at this point, it’s easy. It may not be exciting, but it’s what they want, what they expect, and you know it will sell.
Has this happened to you? Have you had this kind of fear? My gosh, I have.
As I work on this book encouraging people to try to draft their own softie patterns, and as I think about the new year ahead, I want to propose that we set aside chunks of time, big chunks, and give ourselves mental space, forgiving mental space, to wrestle with this fear. Start something new, with a fresh sheet of paper and a different set of materials. Let’s not just make what we’ve always made, what is easy, what is popular.
Let’s make something new.