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Friday's List

Time and Creativity

So, I had a big deadline.  Last week, quilts were due for the Empire Quilters Guild show.  I knew I wanted to submit two quilts, but I didn't have anything around that I felt was worthy.  So, the crazy in me came out and I decided to create two quilts *from scratch* with six days to the deadline.  Now, before you say, "not possible," I have to tell you that the only thing you have to have ready by the deadline for this particular show is the quilt top.  It doesn't have to be completely finished.  Still a ridiculously hard task, but much more doable, right? 

Despite the coughing and nose blowing, I managed to make the deadline with two, largely uninspired, mostly finished quilts.

Just a week later, my brain has been ticking and I am already kicking myself for some choices I made because I was rushing.  I have been able to make some adjustments and changes and I'm hoping that it will all work out, but I am reminded that you can't force creativity. Sometimes you just need time.  Time to sit and stare at it.  Time to just be frustrated and let it simmer.

Stay with me here as my brain wanders...

One of the things about being on a scrapbooking design team is needing to create on a timeline.  And not only needing to create on a timeline, but needing to do it with certain supplies. 

I remember the first time I got a bunch of stuff in a design team kit that I just *hated* and would never have chosen for myself.  It was a tortuous process to deal with it.  I just stared and stared at the kit.  And I thought about it as I rode the bus and stood in line and before I went to sleep.  I let the kit sit on my desk for days until the deadline was looming over me and I *had* to make something.  And it ended up being easier than I thought.  Because, I had given myself time to think it over.

I have a friend who is a playwright and her husband once said that she writes her plays in a matter of days.  She corrected him and says that she writes her plays over a series of months.  It's just that she only sits down at the computer for a matter of days.  She spends months working the characters and the plot over in her mind.  And it isn't until she's truly ready that she sits down to write.

Some lucky quilters have design walls, like the beautiful one seen here.  It's a blank space where you can hang fabric and just let it stare back at you.  No commitment to hours of sewing.  Lay it out and think on it.  Other artists have inspiration boards - bulletin boards that they fill with colors or designs that inspire them.  Why put it up in your creating space?  To give yourself time with it.  Even just peripherally.  

As a kid, whenever I had a bad day, my Mom would say, "Go to sleep.  Everything will be different in the morning."  And she was right.  Sleeping on it usually works for me.

I think that's my problem with all the advice the scrapbooking magazines give you for "finding time" to scrapbook - 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there.  Yes, sometimes that works.  But for the most part, feeling forced to be creative for 15 minutes is a self-defeating idea - at least for me.  I like having time to screw up and fail and get frustrated. 

I know that sounds weird.

But it's human nature.  We don't change unless we're forced to.  And sometimes I need to push past the easy choice or the obvious choice and find something new and fresh on the other side.  And I need time in order to do that.

Georgia O'Keeffe once said, "To see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."  Perhaps advice to all of us when we're stuck - walk away.  Take some time to let things percolate.  Plant the seed and then let it grow.

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