Thursday, 11 July 2013

Some Thoughts on Creativity and Self-Criticism

So I've mentioned this to quite a few of my fellow sewing bloggers lately, and you may have noticed the recent dominance of knitting on my blog. I've been in a sewing slump!

It's been going on for quite a while, and I thought I'd write out my thoughts on it. It really all boils down to a lack of confidence and a surplus of self-criticism. It's a subject I think is worth examining...

I've been sewing for a relatively short time. But even before then, when I was too sick to sew (still suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome- some back story on that here), I had begun to follow sewing blogs, captivated by the amazing creations these ladies sewed up! I so badly wanted to be one of them, and when I got better, I was determined to do it!

I basically want to be Tasia from Sewaholic Patterns (pictured above wearing awesome hand-made clothes)
When I was finally healthy again, I was ready to sew! But hang on, this sewing lark wasn't as easy as they had made it look. Why didn't everything I touch turn to gold? Of course, that's part of being a beginner.  Making mistakes. Making some downright fugly creations in fact, is all normal.
I did improve, and I did learn, but everything I made was a bit "off".
I was discouraged. I was teaching myself alone with nothing but the internet for guidance. I wouldn't recommend it!
I have found that teaching oneself is hard. Well, it has been for me. I'm sure some people excel at it (lucky ducks).
I would fail to understand something and spend so long searching online, hoping to find the answer. I'd fall into online rabbit-holes, reading through pages and pages of things that only served to confuse me further.

Finally I had to admit it wasn't working. I said Enough! The internet is not the answer! There is no substitute for being taught in person. It makes everything 100 times easier. Fact.
So I went to a sewing class, and... found it also to be discouraging. The teacher just was no good for me.  After that, I felt resigned to going it alone.

So what do you when something isn't working for you? You have two options:
1) Decide it's not for you and give up.
2) Power through the tough bits to reach your goal.

I decided I just had to keep trying because the goal is just so awesome to me: To use my own two hands to make lovely, wearable garments that are wonderful inside and out!

It was a rough beginning for me, but it was worth starting a blog and keeping trying. This blog has helped me meet an awesome bunch of local and international bloggers that are such a supportive and fun community. They really pick me up!
Especially when I'm able to meet up with the local Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network. I can learn so much from them in person, and I'm looking forward to our next sewing meet up. :) I think that getting to know some sewing people in person was the start of my sewing revival, though it is still an ongoing process.

Just some of the cool people I've met :D

I am also learning to recognise my self-critical habits. I've had several people in my life point out just how badly I was treating myself.
After that, I noticed that listening to my inner voice.... she is REALLY mean to me! So I have to kick that old cow out... she'd been living in there so long I'd gotten used to her. But she's truly dead weight. If you have one in there, I'd advise you to do the same.

Here's the weird bit about all this though:

I do janky fixes on knitting all the time. I mess things up. I sometimes have dodgy tension that's not at all even. But it doesn't seem to bother me that much. I just look at it and go, "I'll get better with time and practice. It's not that noticeable". And when I mess up I don't let it ruin the enjoyment of knitting. So, why can't I do that with sewing?
I barely worry about frogging back a few hours' worth of knitting (okay, okay, it definitely irks me), but the moment I have to unpick a seam worth all of 5 minutes, it's gloom and doom.

I know I've made this and I still think I'm a crappy sewer.

I know I've knitted this...thing, and I'm still happy with myself as a knitter.  This does not make sense people!!
I think one of the reasons for that is that I built up way too many sewing "failures", to the point that any new obstacle was magnified. All I have to do is learn to be as positive about my sewing as I am about my knitting!

So what are the conclusions here?
-Don't listen to any mean inner voices. They aren't going to help you.
-Find cool people who you can learn from. Doing it alone isn't always the answer!
-Again, go easy on yourself!! When you listen to your self-talk just think "would I say this to a friend?".

I really could go on and say a lot more about this subject. It's been quite the journey. Wait, you're still here?? Well, let me reward you for reading this far.
Have a cute bunny.

Maybe I should add that to my list of conclusions:
If you feel down about your project, a cute baby bunny is the perfect antidote :)

Have you guys had any similar struggles?

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