I’ve been thinking a lot about my creative processes and what I get out of them lately, in case the past few regular posts haven’t made that obvious. My creative process looks a bit different for free-form things like writing than it does more concrete things like sewing or cross-stitch. These are the three types of creation I’ve been doing the most of lately, so they’re what’s on my mind.
My writing processes are all over the place, but I take more joy in the drafting stage than most other parts of the process, including actually finishing something. With cross-stitch and sewing it’s a bit different. I enjoy the process. The individual steps and seeing the project come together are enjoyable, but seeing the final finished project is a huge rush all by itself, even if the last thing I did was super easy and only took a few minutes. That act of completion is just so amazing.
So, for my writing, I seem to enjoy the creation itself the most, but for most other crafts, the completion of the project is the most enjoyable part. I find this interesting. And I think it might have part to do with the fact that a writing project doesn’t always look or seem either complete or incomplete, especially when it’s just words on a screen, but you can tell with just a glance if a sewing or cross-stitch pattern is complete or not. A little less so at the end stages when you’re doing finishing work, but certainly during the bulk of the project it’s either in pieces or has big gaping holes with no color or stitches.
All of this got me thinking about why I create. Why do I want to make things or write stories? Part of the answer is that I enjoy the act of creation. I love making things. Whether it’s new words, a new shirt, a teddy bear for someone, a cross-stitch that makes me smile when I look at it, or a cardboard creation to keep the cats from getting at the cords under my desk. Believe it or not, that last one brought a lot of satisfaction with it. I could get at my cords easily, but the cats could no longer walk on the power strip where there’s a switch they could accidentally flip to turn everything off. It happened once, my cat was not amused by the yelling and cursing that ensued. We’re both much happier with this new arrangement.
Sometimes I’m really proud of the final products I make, like the Regency gown and Spencer jacket I made so I could fit in with the bridal party at my friend’s Regency themed wedding. Sometimes, it’s just the satisfaction of making a solution with no extra costs, like that cardboard cord protection. Sometimes I’m writing a story just for me, and never plan to share it with anyone. Sometimes I’m writing a story I want everyone to read. But no matter what the motivation is, I enjoy the creation process.
Taking joy in the process as well as the finished product is one of the best things about making of any kind. Yes, you have an awesome thing when you’re done, but you also spent time (sometimes a huge amount of it) doing something you enjoy. Sometimes, when the editing is hard, or the ideas aren’t coming, I need that reminder that the creation isn’t all about the end product. It’s about the process and the enjoyable time (and sometimes friendships) I make along the way.
I think what I’m trying to say, is don’t forget to take joy in the process, and if the joy is gone from the process, maybe it’s time for a break to make something else for a while. My writing has been a bit of a struggle lately, but I’m finding a lot of joy (and some peacefulness in my own head) from working on cross-stitch projects (mostly gifts for others). So, I’m trying not to stress the lack of writing progress right now. Trying to force it can lead to stress, so doing my one or two sprints in the morning is enough. And if every few weeks I miss a day entirely, that’s fine too. There’s only so much creative energy and time, so at least I can spend it on the project that’s giving me joy.
With the state of the everything right now, it’s important to be compassionate with yourself, especially when it comes to your hobbies and the things you’re doing because you want to do them. If it’s no longer enjoyable, a break might serve you better in the long run.