Inspiration and Focus

Over the last week, I have had an interesting internal dialog going about the balance between inspiration and focus. Let me break that down – in my mind, there is a tension between finding and feeling inspiration and digging in to focus on execution.

I get energized by all kinds of inspiration ranging from Pinterest searches and reading books to chatting with other sewists online or at meetings of the local modern quilt guild. I save photos on my phone, pin ideas online, draw sketches of future projects, and jot down design concepts for potential future creations. One set of ideas will fade or shift as another new set floats to the surface in my brain. My favorite designs and aesthetic are definitely a blend of multiple genres and intersections in design from around the world. I credit this to a wide range of places where I find inspiration and my interest in capturing patterns that arise through time and across cultures.

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At the same time, filling endless scrap pages with scribbled drawings and hitting 1K Pinterest pins does not actually get me very far. Often I find myself pulling my head up from a dreamy imagination session to the realization that I haven’t “done” anything yet today. So, in probably an exaggerated swing of over-compensation, I switch to extreme “get it done” mode. For example, leading up to the craft fairs where I’m selling this season, I’ve had to be very diligent about structuring my time to actually accomplish and complete projects (both creative and logistical). This process can be equally satisfying. I love making specific lists, crossing things off as they get completed, and enjoying the feeling of holding a finished product in my hands. But after the list has been completed, what am I supposed to do next if I haven’t spent any time thinking about what to pursue next?

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So. What I have been wondering this week is how to make the most of these two different directions without having them constantly in competition for my mental space! This means I have a few goals I’m trying to break down:

1) I want to be able to do both – and I need to be able to if I’m going to be successful. Neither cranking out the same old project nor constantly coming up with new ones will work alone.

2) I want to be proactive instead of reactive to avoid the manic shifts between types of work and the associated feelings of guilt. Maybe scheduling my time, planning for the cyclical nature of creating, and better tying together ideas with action.

3) I want to be flexible enough to recognize when a certain day or week is truly best spent just letting myself go full-on with one direction and abandoning the other for a while. I know that this is true and want to wrap my head around it.

Do you feel this kind of tension at any point? If so, how do you manage or capitalize upon it?

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