Do you ever find yourself procrastinating from doing the thing you love most?
Let’s say you’ve been really busy recently with a big project for work and now it’s finally finished. All the time you were working on the project you were longing for free time to sit at in your studio space and just be creative. You kept thinking, “If only I had time to make the stuff I want to make I’d be so happy right now,” but you couldn’t because you had to buckle down and finish it up.
And now it’s done and that creative free time you’ve been yearning for has arrived! You’ve cleared off the desk in your studio (the top of it anyway!) and sharpened your pencils. So why are you checking Facebook again and calling your sister again and painting your nails. Why all of a sudden are you procrastinating from doing what you love?
People with creative passions, whether they be writing or painting or sewing toys, can feel a sense of panic right before they begin something new. The craft drawer is bursting with supplies, the paint brushes are sitting in their jar…now how to begin?
This happens to me, too. My precious free time finally rolls around and I suddenly feel frozen and stiff and start engaging in avoidance behavior, even though I love my creative work.
I know from experience that once I’ve jumped in and made some marks on the page, cut some paper, dropped some fabric scraps on the floor, things take off. Once I’m engaged I don’t procrastinate any more. Once my hands are busy, my thoughts start swirling with new ideas and I’m in my element again. It’s getting there that can be tricky.
I’ve developed five strategies to get past this procrastination point. All of these strategies are based on the same piece of advice: don’t start at the beginning.
Here are my top five ways to get past procrastination and get started creating:
Make a variation on one of your themes. Go back through your sketchbook until you find something you’ve worked on in the past that was successful. Begin your new project by creating a variation on that piece. Could you turn one of your paintings into a series? Or make a second set of those popular baby lovies?
Improve upon something that already exists. Look at the trendy merchandise available from the mainstream big brands or look back to the classics, like the hobby horse, and think about how particular items could be made into new projects. Take what you see and figure out how you could create something better, more innovative, more modern if you did it yourself.
Act on your customers’ suggestions. Do people email you from time to time asking if you make something in particular? Do customers always seem to ask the same questions? Maybe now is the time to try to meet that demand. Could you create what they are asking for or use their ideas as a jumping off point?
Expand on something you’ve already got. Add to one of your existing items or expand your line around that item? If you make dolls, could you add a variety of doll clothes to sell with them? Or doll quilts to pair with them?
Take something that is and make something that never can be. One of the most magical things about art is the element of surprise. You look at something for moment, and then find yourself looking again when you realize the ingenuity of the designer to come up with such a clever idea. Try to capture that “wow” moment in your own work by beginning with something familiar and making it into something unheard of, like a plush rubber duck.
All of these starting points share the same underlying element: you are beginning with something you already have. Knowing that you don’t have start from scratch can ease your fear of beginnings.
Don’t worry! You aren’t starting something new, you’re just picking up in the middle. And that feels so much easier.
Would one or more of these strategies work for you? What strategy do you use to kickstart your creativity? Please share.