On juggling creative projects.


It seems like I either take on too much these days (my Etsy shop slogan/business card motto is "a finger in every pie" for a reason...) or that, perhaps, the older I get, the less I can fit on my mental plate at one time.

That said, it's amazing how my brain still insists that I can and should do 35 things at once. I decided just a few minutes ago that I'd continue on a little felt project I started the other day, and immediately, my traitorous brain whispered, But remember how you have those circular knitting needles you got for Christmas eight years ago and you've never once used? Maybe today's the day you should learn how to use them!

What? Whoa! That sounds fun; I have been knitting a lot lately... Wait a second. Shut up, brain! That's not even remotely on my miles-long to do list!

Hey, also, you have that embroidery project sitting on your desk 40% finished. You should really work on that... it's probably been three years since you last stitched on it... 

But, BRAIN! I am BUSY right now! YOU KNOW THAT!

This happens to me constantly, particularly with writing projects. If I'm doing one, my brain flat-out lies to me by giving me the nagging desire to work on a different story instead. I am fully aware that I will not work on the other one, even if I do switch over to it. It's just my brain's way of wandering restlessly, certain that the grass must be greener in that other Word document.

My to do list is always hugely long. I keep one for which I am actually accountable on HabitRPG (I recommend this site very much -- I've used it for about a year and a half!) but my mental one is like a cartoonishly long scroll. It's got things I really want to do on it, but it's also cluttered up by real life demands. I'm often halted by the harsh reality of not having time, energy, drive, money, whatever.

In terms of juggling projects, it's sometimes difficult to decide what I want to do... what I really want to commit to. for the sake of finishing it, sometimes versus what I actually feel like doing.

The Spoon Theory comes into play here. My eyes are often way bigger and my brain more ambitious than my actual stamina can handle. I have to really work up a lot of gumption to get supplies sometimes, or to slog through learning how to do something. I have to do projects in manageable bites.

Perfectionism is also in play. Kailey of Mermaidens has talked about this recently, but it's easy to procrastinate when you feel like you're not doing something well. It's easy to say, "I'll do this later, because surely later, my skills will have improved, I will be more confident, I will have more time to focus on it, and I will do it better then. So it just makes more sense to wait to do it." Keep waiting and you'll never do it -- you'll never fail or make something that isn't up to your personal snuff, which is very, very hard for people with perfectionist tendencies. I'm a perfectionist about some things and want to do the best possible job I can with them, but I'm not like that about every single thing I do, so it's a mixed bag.

Sometimes I am really in a specific gear and I really want to think about/do one particular thing, even if I have other projects languishing. At times there's internal pressure I'm putting on myself to do something, a sense of guilt that I have so many works in progress... and other times I feel an external pressure because I'm a people-pleaser. That pressure makes my brain jump right into that avoidance mode I was talking about. It starts suggesting a bunch of other things that sound more preferable to me right then.

Now and then I have so much that I could/should do that I end up stymied, unable to tell what I should focus on, and then I wind up playing Spider Soliltaire for hours instead of doing anything productive.


Note: Giving yourself a break and doing something mindless like playing games or watching TV is restive and even therapeutic, so it's not a bad thing to dink around playing Dragon Age or fall down a YouTube rabbit hole. I'm not knocking my beloved Spider Solitaire. I just also genuinely enjoy being productive and always want to be working on a project! That's why I have so many!

I wish I had the precious resources of endless time and energy, endless drive (and patience and focus) so I could do everything that I want to do all the time.

I have to remind myself that it's okay to work on whatever I'm in the mood for. And that I am not obligated to ever finish that embroidery, or keep making YouTube videos if doing that becomes a stressor, or finish projects quickly in one or two sittings.

I need to find the right balance between giving myself permission to follow my heart as it oscillates around, wanting to do so many different things; forgiving myself when I use up all my "spoons" and have to put something down for a while; and pushing myself to finish up projects so I won't have so many unfinished projects cluttering up my mind.

Did you notice that I just magically avoided working on my felt project by writing this blog post instead?

3 comments:

  1. I'm currently in a realllllly low energy place but I just needed to say I feel like I could have written this. I feel the exact same way about creativity/productivity, etc. (Not enough energy, feeling overwhelmed by possibility, jumping from one thing to another, etc.) I also sometimes just...forget. Like, I'll think 'yes, I'll do that thing' and then a month later I realise it never occurred to me to actually start. Bleh, I'm tired, but yeah, I feel this!

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    1. We have a lot in common, I think, Andi, just based on some stuff we've commented about before! "Bleh, I'm tired," another commonality. From what I've seen you are super talented and creative and have a ton of interests that you keep up with. That pressure, whether internal or external, to always be keeping up with everything and to be creative and productive can really trip a person up!

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    2. I think we have a lot in common, too! Ha, yes, I feel like those'll probably be my dying words or something. Aw, thank-you :D I think you are, too :) and yes, so true! Especially when the creative stuff I (or anyone else) do(es) is more of a hobby, you know? Even when it's not a hobby, obviously, but if it is a hobby, I don't need to be doing it 24/7.

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