This episode is about the very thing that kept me from making the podcast for nearly three years. Prerequisite procrastination. What a pain.
I put my finger on what to call this particular subspecies of procrastination during a video conversation with members of our online community (we do things like talk about the specific ways we procrastinate; you should get in on this).
Listen for what this wee beast is, and what we can do to defeat it so we start making things we really want to make (like, as I said, this podcast).
Each episode this season begins with a short clip of a maker or artist talking about a recent project they were obsessed with. I recorded all of these in April of 2019 at Camp Thundercraft, a retreat for creative businesspeople held each spring and hosted by the folks behind Urban Craft Uprising. I'm very excited to be going back to teach two classes at the 2020 retreat coming up.
Kicking things off is a clip of ceramicist Sean Forest Roberts of Forest Ceramic Co. talking about some incredibly intricate mugs he makes out of dozens of layers of colour. You have to see it to really get it. Since I met him and learned of his work, I have been desperately coveting a Galaxy mug 😍.
Here are some of my favourite things to do when I'm stuck in a procrastination rut:
Set a timer. I can do anything for 20 minutes, and often all I need to get out of my head and into making something is decide to just do it for a few minutes. Doing it a little bit is far better than not doing it at all.
Along similar lines, this tired cliche: Done is better than perfect. It is so tired. And it is so true.
(You will notice that the sound quality of the Camp Thundercraft clips this season are not the best. I considered the task of cleaning up the audio one of the prerequisites that kept me from making this podcast for ten months. I have cleaned them up, believe it or not, but really, I just needed to stop worrying about it and just make the episodes.)
Consider whether I really want to do the thing I'm putting off. There's a section in Make It Mighty Ugly where I write about gut feelings. Sometimes we need to do something that makes us uncomfortable, because we grow from it. Sometimes, though, we feel uncomfortable because it's a terrible idea. We do ourselves a great service when we get to know the difference.
Throwing my first try under the bus. Sometimes, I procrastinate because I'm so excited about the idea of making something that I become terrified that the thing I make will be awful. So I make my first attempt an effort at making it terrible – doing it too fast, or not reading the instructions closely, or using crap materials, or whatever. This way I can't be disappointed, and I will at least be making something. After this first terrible attempt, there's nowhere to go but up.
Discuss this episode in our online community right here!
In a super rare move, I've finished a massive knitting project just over a year after I started it. (I've had some crocheted blankets on the go for nearly a decade!)
Last week, after working on it in fits and starts during the cooler seasons, I cast off my Find Your Fade Shawl. And though at first blush I was thoroughly intimidated by even the thought of weaving in my loose ends, one conference call and I was done. Done! Completely finished.
I used eight different yarns for it, all odd skeins from my stash. How lovely to be reminded that my colour choices are so consistent that I had eight random skeins in shades of purple, grey and turquoise.
Seven of the eight skeins were fingering weight sock yarn; the eighth was sport weight, and I didn't realize it till I was nearly through knitting that part. Ah well. That bit of the scarf is a little misshapen to accommodate the heavier weight. But that's fine.
The finished shawl is massive. I haven't measured it, but it's far longer than my wingspan. When I put the widest part at my chest and wrap the ends around the back of my neck to the front again, the tips fall to my knees.
And I haven't blocked it! There are some simple lace sections that would really benefit from even a light blocking (not to mention that misshapen bit that could be bandaided by some strategic stretching), but I think I'm going to have to wait for summer. And the ability to take up a huge amount of floor space.
So for now, I'm wearing it pretty much every day. I love it so much.
Pattern:Find Your Fade Shawl, by Andrea Mowry Ravelry Details Yarn: Seven skeins fingering weight sock yarn of different makes and colourways; one skein sport weight. Needles: 3.75mm Modifications: I used eight yarns instead of the called-for seven because I didn't have enough of one colour to use it for an entire section; I improvised! Also, I was so sick of the final lace section that I cut it short and worked some additional decreases as needed in the final section to finish it all off properly despite having skipped a few rows of the pattern.
The podcast is back, with a new name! It's still about what motivates us to make things, how to make space in our lives for creative adventures, and how to have more fun with it all. But the format will be simpler than it was a few years ago and the episodes will be pretty short. Listen for more details!
Look for new episodes of Mighty Creative in February, 2020. For now, be sure to search for the new name in your podcast app, and subscribe!
It's been a long while since I asked you for some insight into how I can do my best work for you. Please let me know a little bit about your creative experience by filling out the very short 2020 Community Survey. It's only three questions, and should take no more than five minutes.
Whether utterly entertaining, deeply informative or just downright riveting, these are the books I read in 2019 that have stayed with me. Enjoy!
These are affiliate links to books I truly love and think you'll enjoy.
And for a bit of further detail: Hands-down my favourite book of the year was Red, White & Royal Blue. It's a spectacularly well written political love story that takes every aspect of our real-life dumpster-fire society and sets it right. Read it yourself and give a copy to everyone you love.
Also: Listen to the audiobook of Becoming. It's like spending a weekend with your BFF the former First Lady. And Educated is everything it's hyped to be.
It's a new year coming up – heck, it'll be a new decade! – and there's no better way to start fresh than to do it by embracing the imperfection and occasional downright ugliness that comes along with doing creative things.
Join me from January 6 – February 7th, 2020, and together we'll work through my book Make It Mighty Ugly.
Through guided discussion, prompts and live chats, we'll fight our creative demons and kick the new year off with a focus on prioritizing the meaningful creative projects that make us happy so we can spend the rest of the year making and learning and not worrying about it all ending up perfect. Because perfect is boring and imperfect is fascinating.
Since one of the most amazing things about connecting with other makers is learning from each other, we wanted to see what would happen if we set aside some time to focus on a particular kind of craft.
So this month, we're diving into weaving. (Most of us know nothing about it!)
Community members who know a thing or two about weaving will be sharing tips, tricks, tutorials and projects. And even those of us who are total newbs will be sharing our trials and errors and successes as we give weaving a shot for the first (or second or third) time.
No fancy equipment required! Just a desire to try a new thing, cheer people on, and learn something new.
Our community is free to join because it's supported by Patreon members who kick in a few bucks each month to cover our operating costs (which include my time and skill); as such, Patreon members enjoy live video chats with me, their own private video chat room, a monthly newsletter, and more.
They do not want us to ridicule them (their word) when they bring up climate action.
They do not want us to dismiss them or tell them to wait till they're older and know more.
They do not want us to maintain our status quo, leaving them with an even bigger mess once we're dead.
They do not want us to be hypocrites who say we love our pets but won't protect the rest of the animals on this planet.
They want us to put our collective survival ahead of our individual desires.
They want us to join them and help them fight climate change.
This is what they told me in our session on craftivism at UBC's Girls-Only Maker Camp. We rounded out their week of camp with a discussion about what makes them mad about climate change (see above). Then we talked through what they might do about it, and how they might effectively get adults to take action with them instead of dismissing them.
They decided to call on local Vancouver businesses to take a #WithoutWasteWednesday pledge in an effort to reduce their overall landfill waste. To accept the challenge, a business would simply commit to posting a photo of their landfill-bound waste each Wednesday and try to get it down to zero within a year, and use the hashtag #WithoutWasteWednesday.
Reversing our dreadful climate-change trajectory will involve far more than reducing waste, but this session wasn't about duplicating work scientists have already done to identify what we need to do. It was about giving kids an opportunity to be heard, and heeded.
We would do well to join them in this fight. Indeed, the survival of life on earth literally depends on it.