For example, the past several months I’ve been working on and blogging about a new art quilt inspired by a visit to Muir Wood National Monument. This piece is huge and, at times, a little unruly. Two weeks ago, I found that I was getting very frustrated with the progress of this piece. Because I really wanted to get it finished, I kept trying to plug along with it.
Every piece I make is unique and requires different techniques to accomplish my vision, therefore I’m not very systematic about what I do. As I progressed on this piece, I realized I was super tense working on it. Little obstacles kept appearing that made me re-think my path forward. During my most intense frustration, I posed a question to an online group asking them what they do when they feel this way: “Do you keep going and fight through the frustration?” or, “do you call a time out, put it away and start working on something else?” I got mixed responses, but most seemed to agree walking away was a good choice.
I’ve always tried to drive on, but this time I had other small projects I could work on to allow a temporary break from the large quilt. This week I put the Muir quilt under the needle again. Its amazing how my attitude has changed. I’m once again excited about stitching on this quilt top. I learned something new about my creative self – stepping away is a good thing. Sometimes deadlines keep me from having this luxury but, I also don’t think I do my best work when I’m stressed. With this experiment I learned something new about myself: I can and should take a break when I need it.
Knowing how you work and what you need to succeed is owning a very valuable tool for your productivity. Do you pay attention to your feelings when you work? You know, it’s never too late to learn.