January 1st Has Passed – Who Cares? Start TODAY

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Last year, my kid’s school district decided to shift their two-week winter break by a week. Instead of it starting the third week of December and ending just after New Year’s, it now starts as close to Christmas Day as possible and goes through the first week in January.

It is the worst.

I’ve decided my 2019 Year of Making (it’s my sixth YoM, and I’m kind of incapable of even making sense of that) will be dedicated to putting in the time to learn new things. Not just to try out things I’ve never done, but to put in the time to really learn.

Of course, my kid’s stupid winter break has eaten up the first week of the month in a mess of playdates, errands, work, and many children coming in and out of my house.

Alas, my fantasy plan to dive into learning a new skill on January 1st was sacrificed for making whatever it was I was making, without a plan. (Which didn’t totally suck, because what I made was gingerbread cookies with the kid, everything bagels, some knitting, some doodles.)

The first thing I want to spend time learning: Hand lettering. After following along as lovely newsletter reader Kat worked through lettering drills last year, I had signed up for the Show Me Your Drills program, then never did it. But I have all the lessons so I’m all set to go.

Only thing is, the daily exercises are organized by day of the week, starting on a Monday. Obviously, this is hardly something that needs to be stuck to – who cares if I start on a Wednesday and cross out all the days of the week on the exercises? But it did take me a couple of days after New Year’s to make it to the art supply store to get the right kind of paper. And then I was excited about a new knitting project, so…

This is to say, it’s January 6th and I haven’t started my drills yet.

There was a time when I would have tossed my whole plan out the window because of this. I would have thought, “Well, I missed January 1st, and the 2nd and 3rd-6th for that matter, so I should just call it quits now and wait for another right time to start. Maybe February 1st, or maybe New Year’s Day 2020.”

That time, though, has passed. Because waiting is no way to start something, and dates are arbitrary.

I’ve decided I don’t want to rewrite the days of the week on my drills, so I’ll be starting my hand-lettering practice on Monday. Good old January 7th. Twenty-eight days of drills don’t care when they’re done. I do care that I do them at all. So I’m going to do them.

For years, I’ve talked to people who struggle like I do with schedules and time management and failing before we start. I didn’t set out to have a part of my work be a focus on habits and habit formation, but it’s become one of my favourite topics. Probably because when I finally figured out what I needed to do to make a habit for myself, I realized it’s more about what I didn’t need to do, and sharing that with others is deeply satisfying.

Here’s what you don’t need to do to make yourself a creative habit:

  • You do not need to start on January 1st, or the first of any month, or on a Monday or on your birthday. You may start any time.
  • You do not stop if you miss a day. Everybody misses a day. We are human, and a huge part of being human involves unexpected things derailing our well laid plans. Being human is not about keeping every single juggling ball in the air at all times. Being human means letting some non-fatal balls drop when needed, and not throwing those balls away once they’ve touched the floor, but just picking them up and dusting them off and tossing them into the air again.
  • You do not need to follow anyone else’s rules. You are your own emcee at this party. If there are certain constraints that have tripped you up in the past, toss ’em. If you need a different kind of structure than what anyone else has provided you, set yourself the rules you need.
  • You do not require talent, skill, the divine touch of the art gods. Just make stuff, who cares.
  • You do not need to finish what you start if you hate making it. You are free to toss things aside and move on to something else that actually makes you happy.

You deserve to feel happy about what you make. You deserve to let yourself off the hook and not hold yourself to an impossible standard. You deserve to decide that success is most certainly something to strive for, and that success can still be messy, ugly, or profoundly imperfect.

In other words, success should not, under any circumstance, equal perfect. Perfect is dumb, and perfect is uninteresting. Be smart, be interesting. Be rough around the edges, be grateful for the messes you make.

January 1st, 2019, has come and gone. If you started on a Year of Making already, good for you. If you haven’t started yet, who cares. Start today. Start right now.

Get Some Help Committing to a Daily Creative Practice

  • The Daily Making Jumpstart LIVE begins on Tuesday, January 8th, and registration closes on Monday! Join me and a lovely group of fellow adventurers in a two-week workshop to get your habit going. (Spoiler: There will be a lot of messiness, and a lot of perfection-is-dumb, and a lot of fun.) We’ll use Zoom to hang out by video ten times throughout the fourteen-day Jumpstart (and videos will be recorded, because who can manage to attend ten live video sessions?!). We’ll have a private Facebook group for sharing wins and losses and struggles and triumphs (eventually, I will find something other than Facebook that loads of people will love to use, but for now, it’s Facebook).

 

  • Year of Making can start any damn day of the year. You missed January 1st. Who cares?! And don’t be alarmed by the idea of committing to 365 days of making. Twist your brain around so you can think of this as one tiny baby step each day, and that’s it. Check out what people are already making, declare your intention in the Facebook group and join a supportive community that’ll nudge you on in all the best of ways, and let yourself off the hook when it comes to perfection, rigidity, rules and judgment.

PS This was originally written for my Friday newsletter. Get it here!

Year of Making 2019: Kick Your Creativity into High Gear

Happy New Year!

I started off the last new year intending to again document my daily making by posting a photo every day. I… didn’t really follow through with that.

But. But!

2018 was my fifth Year of Making, and though I didn’t post very regularly about what I made, not a day passed when I wasn’t grateful for the habit I formed back in 2014.

Since I completed that first YoM, I’ve not ever felt like I wasn’t or couldn’t be creative. I’ve always known that even if I miss a day, it didn’t take away from my ability to create nor from the satisfaction I derive from making sure that creating is a priority in my life.

So throughout the last very eventful year – during which I recovered and recuperated from an unexpected health mess, worked a day job, filmed a new class, taught at two conferences, and generally lived my life – I rolled with the punches and never once lost sight of how important making things is to me.

Now that I’m healthy (knock wood) and back to freelancing while I work on my own writing and teaching, I’m committed to again keeping physical creativity at the fore of my 2019.

I’m thinking – not promising, because that would be dumb – that I’ll finally commit the time to learn how to hand-letter. And maybe do some more cooking even though I hate it.

Anyway. Are you with me?

Here’s what a Year of Making entails:

  1. Commit to making something – anything – even just for a few minutes, every single day for a year. (You get to decide what “making” is. Does mac and cheese from a box count? Up to you!) (If you aren’t reading this on January 1st, who cares? A year is a year no matter when you begin – so just begin!) (And if you miss a day? Who cares? Just pick up where you left off.)
  2. That’s it 👆.

#yearofmaking2019

Use the hashtag #yearofmaking2019 when you post about your progress. Especially if you’re just starting out, I encourage you to post every single day – even if your photo is blurry or poorly lit or your cat photobombs it. This is key to participating with everyone else – this is where you’ll find your cheering section, your gentle nudging, your partners in creative adventuring.

If you share on Instagram – which, in my opinion, is a fabulous place to share a daily photo – you can now follow hashtags in addition to people. When you open this link in the app on your phone, you’ll see an option to follow the hashtag (this doesn’t seem to appear as an option yet if you open the link in a browser). (I’m on there, too, obviously!)

Join the Group

Though I’m a huge fan of publicly chronicling creative experiments, I also know that it can be incredibly liberating to share only in small places where I know I can feel safe and confident that people will be above-and-beyond supportive.

A grand gathering of fellow adventurers has formed over in my Facebook group, and I hope you’ll join us there for sharing, for asking, for musing aloud, for celebrating and, when needed, for commiserating.

Just click the button to join and I’ll approve your request ASAP.

2018 Gift Guide for Creative Adventurers

Approaching a new year is a giant blazing invitation to get our priorities straight, whether we love or loathe setting New Year’s resolutions. This list includes all kinds of things I truly love and that will help any sort of creative adventurer prioritize their creativity and making stuff in 2019. (Some of these are affiliate links.)

 

Gifts to Spark Imagination & Making

 

For More Books, Kits, Tools & Materials for Your Favourite Creative Adventurer ↡

How to Pack for a Crafty Road Trip

Summer is for road trips – crafty road trips – and one of the things I love most when a trip is looming is planning the project(s) I’ll bring with me.

(Ok, sometimes by “favourite” I mean “most stressful.”)

It’s a deserted-island kind of situation, planning a crafty project for a trip. It doesn’t even matter if I’m traveling to attend a craft-related conference – during the packing stage it always feels as if I’ll never be near a craft store again in my life, and so I must pack everything I might possibly need. And not only for the obvious project I’m already working on, but also for the three or four other projects I must bring in case I get stranded at an airport for seven months and finish my in-progress project on the first day.

At the beginning of summer, with camping trips looming, I feel a special kind of packing excitement/anxiety. Because in addition to the traveling part, there are the very specific considerations of lots of time spent in a cramped moving vehicle and lots of time spent outdoors.

I’ve started compiling a list of tools and materials I take with me (all of it if it’s a long trip, a selection for shorter trips).

Obviously, crochet and knitting projects are my general jam, and they’re great for lots of time in the car. (Also obviously, I never travel with blanket projects. Way too big, way too much stuff, guaranteed to get dirty and/or ruined.)

And so I always travel with my knitting-needle kit and a variety of crochet hook sizes. You never know when you’ll need a replacement, or when you’ll pop into a yarn shop in a far-off town and simply have to start a project with the locally made yarn you discovered.

If I’m going away for more than a few days, I always get it into my head that I’ll want to keep a travel journal, or at least add stuff into my bullet journal. (Do I? Rarely. But I always plan to do this anyway.) So I keep a small pouch with double-sided tape in it, and I always bring a few of my favourite pens and also a variety of markers or gel pens.

This summer, I have it in mind to make some proper friendship bracelets. I was a fiend for friendship bracelets when I was a kid, especially when I was away at overnight camp. They’re so much fun to make, so easily portable, and so satisfying to give away.

And since I’m going to bring embroidery floss for bracelets, I’ll also prep an embroidery project. Or, now that I think of it, I’ll pack up the sampler I started last summer.

What would you add to the list?

(Some of these are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!)

A Walk Every Day

I’m in the midst of a few months of restricted activity due to some medical shenanigans, and my first question I asked after my doctor told me I need to avoid cardio exercise and lifting more than a grocery bag was, “Can I go for walks? Like, for an hour? Or more?”

Thankfully, his answer was yes. I can walk for as long as I’d like.

Since I got into the habit of running this fall, training for a 5k, one of the things I knew might happen but still delighted me when it did was that I’d come to rely on my runs for my mental health. That hour spent purely in pursuit of a made-up goal became an unexpected highlight of my day. Three or four times a week, I got up and out, and it made everything better. My mind felt clearer, my body felt stronger.

Being forced to take it easy is frustrating and disappointing, especially because I was this close to being ready for the 5k.

But at least I can take long walks. And so I have been, every day.

I walk by myself, but I see these walks as being as important to my general life as artist Austin Kleon describes the walks he takes with his family every morning. (I also can’t make it to Creative Mornings – the talks happen too early to accommodate dropping my kid off at school.)

Not only will my body heal while I stroll around the woods and my neighbourhood, my mind will stay healthy, too.

Compulsory Podcast Episode 201: Cheryl Arkison

In this first episode of Compulsory in two years (two years!), we return to our roots with an honest conversation with quilter Cheryl Arkison about the power of habit in creative life, and about embracing the mess of, well, pretty much everything.

Show Notes and Links

Learn more about Cheryl Arkison and her work at cherylarkison.com and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.


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Quilter Cheryl Arkison on Compulsory Podcast. Listen at http://www.kimwerker.com/topics/podcast-2