When it come to creativity, slow, steady & repetitive win the race

When it come to creativity, slow, steady & repetitive win the race

Hot Air Balloon Doodle

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how perfectionism works against my creativity.

Today, I wanted to share another realization I’ve had about the nature off creativity, as least for me.

You know how people joke about all of the crafts they’ve started but never completed? Yeah. That’s me.

I’m a really, really, really good starter. A new project? A new skill? Bring it on!

But once the shine wears off, I tend to set it aside and forget about it…accumulating a ridiculous number craft supplies and half-finished projects in my wake. {Hmm…I guess my girls get that honestly!}

Often I will choose projects that can be completed quickly and easily, things like a little crocheted shape or a small doodle. Or the 101 Days of Christmas series, where I get to try a lot of different things in very small doses!

But what I’m learning is that it’s worth taking on a bigger project, intentionally investing the time and effort not just into starting it, but in actually seeing it through to fruition. There’s something extremely gratifying about completing a big project, especially when you were tempted to set it aside along the way {or so I’ve heard…}.

When it comes to big projects, it helps to adjust our expectations upfront. If you like to get things done, check them off your list, improve your efficiency, and so on, tackling a bigger creative project is a good chance to redefine what the goal really is.

Instead of racing to get it done the fastest, to complete a certain number of projects or to move on to the next thing, focus on these three elements of creativity: slow, steady and repetitive.

Slow

In the story of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise wins the race because he takes it slow and therefore doesn’t wear himself out and need to rest. Runners call this pacing yourself.

The same principle applies to creativity. While there will certainly be times when you’re struck by creative inspiration and make a huge amount of progress in a short amount of time, rushing is a great way to end up with a disappointing final project and wear yourself out in the process. Take your focus off the final product, whatever it may be, and just enjoy the process without worrying about how long it’s taking you.

 Steady

Moving forward slowly only works if you’re actually moving forward. The flip side of slow and steady is that you need to be consistent. Even if it’s 10 minutes a day, steady effort produce more in the long run than short bursts of effort.

The problem with being attracted to new, shiny things is that we don’t make any steady progress on the projects we’ve already started. And no matter how long we wait, those just aren’t going to ever be quite as shiny as something we haven’t tried before.

Repetitive

The other part of creativity—and perhaps the hardest for me—is the repetitiveness of it. I like to crochet the first square in a blanket, sketch the first draft of a doodle, try a new recipe once, decorate a handful of cupcakes. When I have to do it again and again, I start to feel like I’m not actually being all that creative after all.

There are probably ways that I could completely avoid repetitiveness, through certain styles of art, choosing my projects with that in mind, etc. But I’d rather look at it as an opportunity to grow, to embrace the repetitiveness for the way it soothes my soul when I’m running frantically or stressed out, to complete each repetition with the same excellence as the first.

***

I started the hot air balloon doodle at the top of this post two weeks ago, and it’s taking me forever. I’m not entirely happy with the way it’s coming together so far, but I know from past experience that the way I feel about a doodle at this stage says very little about the way I’ll feel about it when I’m done, so I’m practicing the three principles above to keep moving forward.

Do these aspects of creativity undermine your craft? Do you have a stash of craft supplies and unfinished projects like I do?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. YES! This is so me (and as a fellow INTJ I suspect that might have something to do with it). I finally forced myself to pare down my craft supplies to the things I REALLY LOVE – a few other small things that don’t take up much space. Like you, as a mom I have limited time, and seeing all the other supplies and the things I had surrounding me as I waited for “time to work on that big project” was just depressing me. However, that said, the thing I did keep was my knitting supplies – because it is a “big project” that I can often pick up and go on a whim.

    1. Lately I want to ask every single person I talk to what their personality type is so I can see how that affects the way they react/interpret different situations! I have a feeling you’re right about us INTJs, though!

  2. There is something to be said for working against a deadline. I have had many creative epiphanies as I’m rushing to complete a piece! But, it’s definitely not ideal, especially when it’s someone else’s deadline you’re working against. But I think you’re right about the steady rule, even if you set for yourself 10 minutes a day, I think incorporating a certain amount of discipline into creativity can actually be helpful. Now to actually implement that… 🙂

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