The bookends of my creative life can be quite troublesome: getting started at the one end and finishing at the other. Today, I’m going to talk about getting started because it’s been a long time since I blogged and I wanted to, well, get started…
I recently listened to a new (for me) vocal artist, Katie Kuffel and I was quite tickled by her song “Vices”. Two of my vices are procrastination and indulging in feeling overwhelmed. They both interfere with my ability to start things and even the most compelling ideas often get left on the pages of my sketchbook because I can’t get started.
When I was working at my canvas business creating full boat covers for 25 – 50ft sailboats, my initial enthusiasm would often go into hiding when I thought about the complexity of the project. Then little by little, I learned to enter the work with something that was easy… that I knew how to do without much thinking. With canvas, it was laying out the panels and seaming them together to make large rectangles that I would later drape over the boats. Once the pieces were made, I had a momentum that would carry me onto the more difficult work of shaping the canvas to fit and doing the detailed sewing.
There were always numerous points at which I would balk. But each time, I would think of some simple thing that I knew how to do and begin with that.
Now my work is less physical and more mental. And still, there are projects that I stumble on getting started: complicated reports, tedious tax returns, long lists of data entries. And yet this skill of choosing something simple that I do easily still gets me going…develops the energy to keep going.
So when I discovered that I was having trouble starting some of my creative projects, I looked for a simple entry point. What I found is that there is always some tiny action I can take that generates the energy to continue. With collages, it might be a background image; with books, I can start by cutting and folding the interior pages; assemblages get momentum by gathering a group of embellishments.
Sometimes, those small beginnings get covered up or even abandoned along the way. But they have served their purpose of getting me started.
What do you do to get started?