Atomic Project- Repost of do the work

This is a re-post of my Atomic Project Series. Keep an eye on Sundays for more posts like this.

Seriously, get something done. Make something awesome, or not awesome, so you know what not to do next time you try. Put the time in even if you don’t feel like it if you want a creative life. Let me share my first piece of advice on my creative realization, "Do the work" All of the pictures in this post are a result of at least one of the techniques listed in this post.

It is important to cultivate creativity through reading and researching.

Communicating with other creative people is valuable, and it can be a source of inspiration. There is a catch, if I am not ultimately making something, I am not getting anything done. I can spend all day on Pinterest, but if I don’t make something, all I have done is collected ideas. Sometimes, that’s ok. I go back to things I have collected and use them; my research time is important. There is a delicate line between using communication and research as a tool, and using it as a distraction. For me, the easiest way to address this is time management. It really is simple, if I am logging in to my computer, there are two reasons I am there:

1. To accomplish a task

2. To waste time

If I am wasting time when I am trying to accomplish a task, there is a big problem. Both are acceptable, as long as I budget time. Don’t get me wrong. I seriously met this guy who would schedule naps in his day planner, and spontaneity, and probably snuggle time with his wife. I am so not that person. I keep a calendar to keep me out of trouble at work, and I carry that habit over into my creative life.

If I haven’t made something in a while, I set boundaries for myself. Distraction is easily confused for creating. Both part of the creative process, but sometimes, I have to take charge of my process. To get myself past the distraction part, I limit myself. It takes mental discipline, but on those days I want/need to make something, if I set a boundary, I get something done. If I am truly at a loss, I set more boundaries. So my mental task ranges from “I will only be online for 10 minutes”to “I will find a card sketch using hearts in 10 minutes.”

How do I decide on boundaries? I look for the easiest fit. Theme, medium, supply, size, or recipient all work well. Setting boundaries often lets the little voice inside speak up. “I don’t want to make a card with hearts on it. I want to use my new stamp.” Setting boundaries essentially bullied it into speaking up, kind of like when I try to pick a restaurant for dinner, nobody cares until a suggestion is made, and then real opinions come out. The maturity in it all comes from knowing when I am truly working, and when I am doing something that appears as if it might apply to work.

I am guilty of having a gazillion ¾ completed projects about. Right now, I have a super cute door sign I need to finish, and it has been that way for probably 4 months. Pathetically, it is in the assembly state, all done, it just needs rings and a hanger. I have no idea why I haven’t finished it other than I think that maybe I would like a little chain better than a ring, or a ribbon, or something. For four months I have let one detail of a project derail the whole thing. Enough already.

Using the excuse that something has to be perfect to be finished is a great way to never be done. I am learning to figure out where good, and even great are on the spectrum to perfect. I have also learned to allow trying a technique to be a good reason to make something imperfect.

I have had some hot mess projects when I am playing with new materials. Alcohol inks are a good example. I have messed up an incredible amount of junk with alcohol inks. I have nothing to show for it, but I was able to allow the learning to be good enough. Sometimes, there is nothing more gratifying than throwing something away. Or burning it. Seriously, if it makes you feel better burn it. (Safely, any fire creativity experiments you begin are your own responsibility.)

Finding new challenges is a great way to do the work. This is one of the most fun ways for me. I like online challenges, because many sites offer prizes, you get instant feedback from peers, and there is a built in due date. I feel it is important to mix it up, so I try to move beyond just one or two challenge sites, and look for something I have never seen before occasionally. I also like books, because they are good places for inspiration.

Here are my current inspirations…

There are a ton of other places and people, but these are the ones that I have most recently used.

The most important thing about doing the work is valuing my creative life as something that deserves priority, just as any other necessary part of life. I don’t take away from family time, or work time, but I do plan creative time with the same reverence. This attitude is something my husband and children acknowledge, and honor.

What can you try to help you do the work?

Next week: Find a group of critical friends



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