As I am getting ready to work this Tuesday morning, I find myself trying to stay out of ‘muddle.’ I spent most of the day yesterday thinking about and considering the next designs that I would be creating, and I found myself in a place of disarray and disorganization.
Not physical disorganization, as I tend to keep my environment around me relatively neat, but rather a mental disorganization where my thoughts are all over the map and I can’t keep the train of thought that I have going in a single direction for any length of time. (Certainly not long enough to actually draw anything!)
I haven’t yet figured out if this is a bad thing, or just part of the process of designing. After so many years of doing this, you would think that I would know. But it is only through acute self-awareness that I even am able to label it and realize that it even exists, let alone learn to work with it and make the best use of this state of mind. The fact that I am even mentioning it is a good sign. Awareness is the first step.
I spent much of the day trying to figure out what was different from a couple of weeks ago when I was able to draw eight or nine (decent) designs in just a matter of a couple of days. It is odd, but at that time I seemed to have a good handle on things, even though I was thinking about several things at once. It was as if my ideas were little soldiers, and they lined up perfectly, patiently awaiting their turn to surface and everything went rather smoothly.
But at this moment, these ideas are more like unruly children, running about the playground in a haphazard manner with no particular destination, accomplishing very little other than to create chaos in my mind.
Do I sound crazy yet?
I think that those of you who also create have some understanding of what I am trying to explain. Designing isn’t just making new things, it is harnessing those ideas and organizing them and only then are we able to successfully implement them. And that take discipline.
This isn’t a bad thing that I am experiencing. As I go on, I think that it is part of the process. It is like being locked in a small room with hundreds of beautiful butterflies and you need to gently capture one (without a net) and find your starting point. Once you capture that single creature, it gives you a place to begin, and while you are working on that, you start to carefully plan your next moves. Eventually, everything falls into place and before you know it you are on another wonderful productive creative journey. But it begins with that single moment.
There are several things that I am thinking of doing right now. In my mind, I keep flipping through them and as I do so, the list of things I want to accomplish is getting longer. It is at this point that I find that keeping an actual “list” in my small notebook that is by my side is essential. For I have come to recognize these days as the most important of the creative process. Without them I would have nothing.
As I get older, I know from experience that these days are predecessors to another explosive chapter. Instead of trying to hurry through them, I have learned to follow their lead, and allow them to dictate my behavior rather than the opposite. As they play themselves out, the fog will again lift and the path will once again be clear. Those ideas will fall in line and organize themselves and before I know it, I will be on another wave. It will be exciting and fun to see this happen.
It is amazing how much clearer things are this morning. Even in comparison to last evening when I fell asleep. It is as if those ideas were working all through the night while I was sleeping and sorting themselves out while I rested. How fortunate I am for that.
I am almost at a starting point. I can feel it. The wheels are beginning to turn – very slowly at first. It reminds me of a locomotive pulling away from the station. While some designers implement ideas as if they were shot from a rocket, my ideas seem to be more comfortably compared to a train. A bit slower to start, but once in motion they gain momentum at a hard and steady rate.
To each their own.
We all work in different ways, and just by recognizing that one small thought, I feel I am ahead of the game. While it is natural to compare myself to others in my field, I find it serves no purpose but to put additional pressure on myself and inhibit what will occur naturally if I allow it. It is time to look inside of myself and to allow these ideas to develop and emerge when they are ready. And I feel that time is coming.
So I will spend this day once again preparing for the work that is yet to come. While it may not appear to be the case, that process in itself is a very important part of the assignment, as it lays the foundation for all that lies ahead.
In the mean time, I’ll keep my eye out for those butterflies. All I need to do is catch one, and I will be well on my way.
(Photo courtesy of Catmoji )
”Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"