I love this piece about Leonard Cohen (painstakingly slow writer of songs) and Bob Dylan (fast writer).
I’m certainly more a Dylan than a Cohen. If I can’t nail something down quickly, I’m far more likely to drop it than to spend years (or even months) getting it right.
When I started thinking about why I work this way, I recalled that I often say I do my best work when I’m angry.
This is true, but there are variations on the anger that drives me to create things. Often, I’m most motivated by a crushing disappointment that quickly turns into anger over something or another that was done poorly – so I do it better.
But though I often create great work out of anger or frustration, I also create great work out of a kind of hysterical mania. Instead of being driven by an overwhelming negativity, I’ll be driven by an overwhelming need to make something that simply has to exist in the world right this very moment. Though not an angry experience by any stretch, the urgency of it is not unlike the urgency I feel when anger pushes me to lash out.
In any case, I am certainly not a broody creator. I don’t strive for anything I make to be perfect, which is why, I think, I’m far more inclined toward quick-and-dirty. If I overthink anything at all, it’s extremely likely it’ll end up terrible.
I’d never thought about the relationship between my speed of work and the emotions that drive me to make it. I’m glad I came across this piece that led me to the connection.
So, what about you? Are you more a Cohen or a Dylan?
Sandi is a quilter, and we first met when she took my Mighty Ugly workshop at Craftcation last year. During the interview, we talked about that workshop, and also about what I wanted to be when I grew up (at various times when I was a kid), how I finally came to think of myself as a creative person after denying it for most of my life, why I’m focusing so much on the fun of creativity after going deep into the feelings of it through Mighty Ugly, the trajectory of my crochet career, and more.
Our chat is really fun, and I love how we managed to go all over the place while pretty much staying on topic. Have a listen!
“But, it’s not even how much you achieve, it’s what you achieve. Does it matter that we spend all day finishing tasks if those tasks do not significantly contribute to the realization of our company’s goals, or our personal vision? Is having a hand in every little thing more valuable than making sure that a couple of key projects are done in time and thoroughly? I would say no.”
I had an idea last week when I was writing the Weekly Digest, and the idea was about art journaling. I’ve been wanting to really commit to giving an art journal a shot, and I don’t want to let my cluelessness about how to actually do it get in the way anymore.
I’ve heard from quite a lot of people recently about how they, too, want to give art journaling a try, but also don’t really know how or where to start. So it became really quite obvious to me that we should do this together. And what better way to do something new together than to commit to do it together every day for a month?
Of course right.
I’m starting today, along with several dozen people if the number of clicks from my newsletter is any indication. Want to join in with us? Here’s the gist:
Every day for a month, spend at least a few minutes art journaling. You get to decide what that means for you – part of the fun in doing this together is that we’ll get to see all the different, hugely varied things people make in their journals!
Post about it every so often. Tag your social media posts with #dailyartjournal so we can all follow along (and feel free to tag me at @kpwerker!).
There is no number 3.
If you’d like to get occasional emails over the course of your month with encouragement, tips, and prompts, sign up right here.
We’ve all gotten caught up in a fantasy about making something, yeah? Maybe it’s a quilt for someone’s wedding, a fancy cake with a unicorn on top, mosaic paving stones for the garden… Whatever it is, this fantasy sits outside the realm of stuff you make and resides firmly in your imagination.
But why? Why do we spend so much time thinking about our fantasy about making the perfect hand-blown glass vase, or a sweater for our best friend’s new baby, but not actually making it?
Scratch that. Who cares about why? Let’s talk about why not.
Why not just make it? I mean, sure, yes, the projects of fantasy aren’t the simple ones you can just make in an afternoon. No. Usually they’re the ones that will require lots of learning, lots of practice, lots of trial and error. They take time.
And here’s the thing about time: it just keeps going. For every day and month we spend fantasizing, what we’re most certainly not doing is putting in the doing of that learning, practicing, trying and trying again.
Let’s change that, eh? Let’s try to take those creative fantasies and yank them into reality.
Three Simple Things to Do to Start Actually Making Your Fantasy Project
1. Do One Small Thing
Emphasis on the do part. You’ve already made a Pinterest board with pretty links. You’ve already put a dozen books on hold at the library. You’ve already started out the window for hours imagining what it’ll be like to make and then have this project. None of these things is doing the project. So start with one small step. Just one tiny act of doing. Maybe it’s washing and ironing the fabric you’ll use. Maybe it’s sketching out a design. Maybe it’s not just watching, but actually following along and doing the steps of an online tutorial. This tiny baby step will be like a giant leap over the line between fantasy and reality. The next steps will be obvious, and way easier to take.
2. Talk About It
Just talk about it. Pluck your fantasy out of the vacuum of your own mind, and toss it out into the open. I’m not talking about making some kind of outrageous public commitment to making your thing; I just mean, like, mention it casually. Saying it out loud makes it real. Far more real than keeping it to yourself. So tell your friends about your fantasy project, even just in passing. Mention it on your blog. Ask your Facebook friends if anyone’s ever made a thing like that. Saying it out loud makes it real. And making it real is the whole point.
3. Sign Up for Something
Maybe it’s a class or a craft-along or an info session at the local arts organization. Whatever it is – sign yourself up. Commit with your money or commit with your word, or both. And then, most importantly, show up. Do not bail. Do not consider this the lowest hanging fruit when life gets nuts and you need to let something go. Making your fantasy into a reality is important. Because it will make you happy. So make a commitment – a small commitment, just for one night, or for a casual craft-along where it’s no big deal if you end up behind their schedule – and then show up.
A couple of months ago, I got a Twitter mention from the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee, about a Mighty Ugly workshop they were going to host for Valentine’s Day. And I nearly fell out of my chair. I mean, how perfect is that?! It’s totally perfect. So of course I told the librarian how excited I was, and I sent her a signed book to give away, and I recorded a wee video intro for the event.
Here’s the video (in which I explain why Mighty Ugly and Valentine’s Day are a perfect match, natch) and some tweets from the event that made my heart sing. (If you’re a librarian who thinks this idea is swell, or you’re just an average person like me and you’d like to ask your friendly neighbourhood librarian to host a Mighty Ugly event, check out this link with loads of info to help!)