How to Make it Doable

How to make it Doable was the theme for our second day of the Q&A Creative Challenge week hosted by Serena of @sirensfinds and myself @blueskyquilter on Instagram.  For all of the participants and my weekly Studio Notes article readers, I have summarized the discussion below.

How to Make it Doable

Serena…My advice is usually to break it down into actionable steps and goals and try to be as realistic as possible. Think of the resources and time you have available and base your goals on that. Then as you grow, push yourself more and more.  After a while it won’t seem like as much as a challenge as a part of your routine.

Kathleen…Good advice. Action steps and goals made clear at the beginning based on a reality check is a great way to start a creative challenge.

Kathleen...My advice to "make it doable" is to do most of the decision-making when you start your creative challenge.  During our daily lives we make a lot of decisions which can lead to decision fatigue. So up front, I would decide what you want to create, where you want to create, what time you want to create and what materials, etc. You make the decisions only once. This way all you need to do is show up at that time and place with your materials all ready to go. It seems simple and just common sense but it works like magic.

@chrisaraymond asks...I am having trouble defining a new set of parameters to get going on a new series of work. Have too many ideas and so it's the problem of too many choices.

Serena...I try to comfort myself with the thought that too many ideas just means I'll always have something to work on. If I have too many ideas at once, I write them all down and ask a friend to pick one (without telling them why) and that's where I start. To go beyond that, try to set a realistic frame of time to have that idea done then move right on to the next.  Create a sort of "schedule" to get each done and always write down new ideas as you get them.  It might help you get a rein on some of those ideas… and get them done too!

Kathleen...Sometimes it seems like a curse to have too many ideas, but it is better than having too few ideas.  It would help to organize all these ideas into series work and stick with one idea at a time. Deep focus is your friend here. Doing multiple series at a time dilutes your attention. Consider just picking one series for two weeks then switch to another. Cycle back to one that you want to develop further.  For me, the sweet spot of creating is developing new ideas within a set of constraints with color and design parameters by seeing how far I can go with the concept and how many variations. For example, let’s say your creative challenge is to draw fruit every day for 21 days. The obvious way to make this interesting is to use different types of fruit. But then you could draw groups of fruit, or fruit from a bird’s eye view, or use watercolor one day and charcoal another day. Get the idea? The fun is in the experimenting. The series is just a general guideline but it gives us a much needed structure. Your creative challenge should be loose enough that you can play around with it and look forward to discovering something new and different, not to do the same thing over and over again. It can be a challenge to find this balance but you will only figure out the balance that works for you by doing several series in a row.
@st.remy asks...Before you start, do you select all the colors you are going to use for the theme?

Kathleen...Yes I do select my color palette before each series. I usually pick about 8 colors for enough variety to keep it fun balancing light and dark colors with warm and cool colors. When I get to that studio, I want all my decision-making focus to be on how to use the colors and the design parameters I've already selected in a new and different way than I did the day before. It forces me to think outside the box and push the boundaries. If I allowed myself to use any color out of my fabric stash, I would have decision fatigue before I even started sewing.  When I get to the studio I have my fabric all ready. I walk in and start playing with the color combinations and design possibilities and then I sew it together.  The focus is on the play.

@fairyoaksartworks asks...The new projects are not the problem.  I lose interest and want to move on. What makes you feel like finishing? I often just trudge through it but what can make it fun?

Serena...When I lose interest in something I try to figure out why I'm losing interest. Is it how much time I'm spending? Is it the content? Etc., then I try to fix that. Otherwise, I try to reward myself in a relevant way (new/better supplies, going to my favorite park to work, something interesting that I don't normally get to do) then I hype myself up over what the end result will be. If it's really that bad though, maybe it is time to move on to something even if just for a little bit.

Kathleen...I think the most important step is setting up your creative challenge in a way that is exciting to you. What have you liked the most from your past creative projects? Is it the design work? Is it the finishing details? I would take some time to reflect on what part of the process you like the most. It sounds easier than it really is to implement, but I would structure projects to focus on those things you like the most. I've been a fabric artist for almost 20 years so I knew that was what I wanted to do, generally. My favorite part of process is the design work so I make sure I create a new design every day which keeps it exciting for me. There is a lot of trial and error to get to that point of knowing what you like the most but it is worth every minute of effort.

Kathleen...Another idea. Keep the scope small by limiting the daily time limit but make the challenge duration long. Everyone has less resistance to only 15-30 minutes a day. When you see your creative output evolve over 21 days or more, you see your growth and that keeps you wanting to create more.

Serena...Oooh good point! The idea of ideas is incredibly terrifying so setting your daily goals and giving yourself a smaller amount of time to get started takes a lot of pressure off of trying to make it do on the spot. Great points!!!

The conversation can continue. Leave any comments below or email me your thoughts and questions.