Between the ears

I spent so many years letting The Committee keep me from crafting.  The Committee was a group of stern-faced, business-suited matrons that would regularly convene in my head and spew comments like:

    • You don’t know what you’re doing!
    • You’re going to ruin that perfectly good piece of paper/fabric/furniture!
    • Crafting is a waste of time!

Maybe you don’t have such a Committee – thank your lucky stars.  For those of you that do suffer from this affliction, I’d like to offer some words of hope.

My biggest obstacle to creativity was perfectionism.  I would get excited about a project, buy all the supplies, think and talk about it at every opportunity, and then . . . watch TV.  Or sleep.  Or anything but start on the oh-so-exciting craft project.  Because what if I MADE A MISTAKE?  And RUINED it?  I let my fear paralyze me and quash my creative urges.

Then three things occurred to shift my thinking:

  1. A wise woman related the following mantra, “DONE is better than perfect.”  You can still hear me say these words to myself when I’m frustrated with a project and just want to quit.  They spur me on and remind me of the next thing that happened;
  2. I was given a beautiful handmade card by a coworker of mine.  I had looked at it closely several times, admiring the design and thinking about the hours of work that must have gone into making it.  Then, it happened.  I saw a mistake on it!!!  Now, I don’t mean that snarkily, like “Ha ha – she screwed it up!”  I mean the scales fell from my perfectionist eyes and I realized the mistakes that seemed so glaring to me on my own projects were not obvious to anyone else!
  3. I saw a program about wasting less food and one of the concepts in it could relate directly to crafting.  It’s a little hard to explain, but it’s basically this:  is a piece of paper any MORE wasted because you tried a project with it that “failed” versus left it tucked away in your craft cabinet for years?  I would move that the knowledge you got from trying whatever technique it was is way more valuable than the actual value of that one piece of paper.  Granted, if I were working with some crazy expensive materials like gold leaf or loose diamonds, I might feel a little differently!  But I’m usually using secondhand furniture, spray paint, fabric, or paper – all easily replaceable and relatively inexpensive.

These events truly changed my life.  Some people may think, “Okay, so she started doing crafts, but life-changing?”  To which I would say a resounding YES.  I feel most free when I’m making something and I experience moments of true joy when a project meets or exceeds my expectations.  I suppose it’s similar to people who love making music or running or solving equations (I’m sure they’re out there!) – maybe it’s what’s called “flow.”  And it brings me peace.

This is just one of the goblins that stole years of crafting happiness from me; I’ll share more later.  Meanwhile, I hope this was helpful to those of you who have Committees of your own!  Now let’s go make some stuff!  🙂

13 thoughts on “Between the ears

  1. I totally get what you’re saying. I too was immobilized by the perfectionist problem, I mean it’s better not to do something than do it imperfectly right? Since I finally let go ( ish…I still have to remind myself…alot…that it doesn’t have to be perfect ) my life has changed enormously as well, and the people around me can attest to it. I think it has something to do with for years and years we quashed something that wanted to come out, and when we finally let it out…BOOM!
    Keep up the imperfect work
    Karajeanne

  2. I am printing this out and placing it in a prominent place in my crafting space! Wow, I needed this. Thank you from the bottom of my “crafty” little heart!

  3. I don’t know shit about crafts (pardon my French) but I know that you are a great writer. I am thrilled to be able to read you again! Great website.

    1. My head is not going to fit in my car when I leave for lunch. What will I do?

      THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I’ll make every attempt to keep up the good work!

  4. WIN. Gratz on your feature. The writing is good as jessica said. Oh, and I’m out there. I love the feeling of working out a math problem.

  5. I found this site by accident while looking for ways to make a clock out of my quilting fabrics. I LOVE how you’ve rescued and revitalized orphan pieces of ‘junk’. And your writing style is hilarious. I am now inspired to head for the local thrift store immediately and start messing around, even though I have no craft experience at all. Keep posting projects!

    1. WOW – Thanks for the encouragement! You seriously made my day!

      I have two words for you as you embark upon your thrifting…MOD PODGE. 🙂 It’s so versatile, especially if you want to work with fabrics. And if you’re anything like my mom, who is also a quilter, you have…ummm…a LOT of fabric to work with!!!

      Thanks again and happy thrifting!

      1. PS – I receive no compensation for the Mod Podge love, I just use it ALL THE TIME and we’re BFFs. I’ve also seen on Pinterest that you can make your own Mod Podge but I haven’t tried it yet!

  6. Crafting/Art is a personal JOY that no one can take away from one. I have found my “niche” and am loving the creating process, the doing, the shopping and everything else process. I have also found a small following who also love my products. Yes, I may be a little single minded in what I am sewing, now; but, the dreams are still big. Please check out my facebook page … Debb’s Designs. I love making scarves and have found a passion that I cannot contain.

  7. That spoke directly to me & seems universal to all creative endeavors. I will write “done is better than perfect” directly on my drafting table, just as soon as I can get the typography perfectly aligned with my Ames guide.

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