I’ve written about the pressures of juggling projects and work before but the focus was very much on allowing yourself to not launch into success every project you dream up, talk about, half start. I also wrote that post in JANUARY – the deadliest of all the months for making plans, excessive promises, and trying to change yourself into that person you’ve always wanted to be without so much as a reality check that actually, actually, learning 3 new languages in weekly classes, becoming a belly dancer, only eating Miso soup and getting up at every day to do a 5k run that couldn’t be described as enjoyable however much your lying teeth grip together, MAYBE isn’t sustainable…
This is what’s been playing on my mind:
TIME – there seems to be none of it
MONEY – I seem to be paying lots of it
TODO LISTS have taken over my flat and are holding my TV, DVD collection, social calendar and wine rack to ransom
FEAR – But this all might still not pay off right?
SELF-DOUBT – this idea did seem great…when I thought this would be a one-off, complete in a week, and add joy, fun and satisfaction to my life…
So this is a much more practical guide to self preservation. I have reached a point where a lot of the projects I started are beginning to be real. By real I mean there are dates in the diary, gigs booked in, budgets have been made, materials bought, tickets are on sale, cameras upgraded, my first knitted hat is almost complete. I have INVESTED in these things. So now is not the time to burn out, feel overwhelmed, and let all that work unravel (quiet literally with the knitting – I need to sew the damn thing up).
I give you: The Seven Deadly Project Sins
GREED – Thinking big is one thing; considering scale-up possibilities for a public projects is a fantastically ambitious way to drive yourself forward. However banking on this one project making you millions, becoming your life’s work, and forever satisfying you creatively BEFORE you have tested it, rolled it out on a small scale, is an absolute no-no. It may do all of those things above; you may be knitting and making beautiful craft gifts to sell at oh-so-quaint village markets within the year, BUT RESIST the urge to base your project choices on this guarantee. Aside from this the pressure this adds will surely take the fun out of it before it’s begun.
ENVY – This is a given baptism of fire for any creative. Whenever I see something amazing that’s in my creative areas of interest I always without fail think “But why didn’t I think of that first??”. Normally the answer is “because that’s not really something I would have come up with or would have had the patience and passion to build it up into what I see before me”. Gaze away but don’t dwell on it.
LUST – Genius and madness are but a fine line apart. As are passion and inspiration, and Lust. Intense desire can drive you forward and equally make any set-backs painfully damaging. Keep yourself in check.
WRATH – Stress, time pressures, mistakes, breakages, EBAY BIDDING WARS. All of these things will bring out the wrath in the calmest of creatives. But mistakes happen to everyone, that leopard print lace-wool mix offcut from Ebay was not the ultimate addition to the bag you’re making (and certainly not worth the £7.43 total it reached in the last hour of bidding), and if deadlines are growing near this may be the time to recruit a workforce from your darling friends – yes even the ones that are rubbish at making, to simply be with you and chat to you about all the more important things in life….or by far less important things in life (I would personally recommend friends that are really good with useless facts about celebrities current lives; it clears your mind like nothing else)
SLOTH – Projects are tiring. Creativity on a deadline is exhausting. Everyone has off-days and days-off. Both are fine. Also fine is building a work-nest in your bed out of duvets and cushions, and burrowing in deep with your laptop and a packet of biscuits as you google pictures of manatees
GLUTTONY – Over indulgence, extravagance and waste; the deadliest crafting sin of all! Buy and use materials wisely. Plan your projects. Don’t buy randomely and you won’t have piles of unused items littering your floor reminding you of the project s you haven’t even started or thought about.
PRIDE: Sometimes a project does become too big for one person. And sometimes the best thing you can do is invite people in. I’ve talked about always trying to have a project buddy before and I find this helps me so much; not because they have the answers but because when things aren’t happening, or your mind seems so full that you can’t pull any ideas out of it, having a glass of wine and a massive chat with your project buddy can dissipate those fears that you didn’t want to admit to.
Of course, if today you’re not feeling particularly pious I suggest you hide yourself away in your pyjamas with your laptop, googling epic DIY couture fashion projects, buy 2000 rhinestones and a dressmaking dummy in an intense last second Ebay bidding war, and then get catty at the beautiful, but clearly substandard compared to your future efforts, evening gowns that you find online.
We all give into temptation sometimes.