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Hands up who has wanted to learn something new, only to be struck with “the fear” that you will be absolutely rubbish at it, so you never quite get around to it? Yeah, me too. Logically, we know that trying our hand at a new thing means learning and that our first attempts might not be perfect. But them there is also that part of us that expects immediate results, that we will be a natural and it will turn out splendidly on our first go. Only it doesn’t, so we have a tantrum and never try again. Sound familiar?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how creative perfectionism. The desire to be perfect when creating is something that I not only have to deal with personally, but see so much when teaching craft workshops. People clearly want to create, because they have paid to come a workshop. But are scared of getting it wrong, of embarrassing themselves and being the only one in the group that fails. So they give up and I’ve seen grown adults regress into stroppy teenagers because they have struggled with something. So I sit with them and go over something again and again, until it clicks.
And that is mostly why I love leading craft workshops; it’s not just about teaching technical skills, but about helping them believe in their creative ability, metaphorically holding people’s hands and cheering them on. Seeing the transformation in people between coming in all unsure of themselves and their creativity and leaving being so proud of what they have made is wonderful.
But going to a workshop every time you want to create something, just so you can have a tutor to help you out, isn’t really feasible. But there are loads of craft clubs, knitting groups and stitch & bitch nights that you can go to to get that communal support. There is no pressure to finish, it’s about sharing the creative process and being social.
Or take a moment to look at the hashtag #WIP (work in progress) on Instagram. People are putting stuff out there before they are complete, showing their working, their process and progression! We are not seeing beautifully styled, amazingly finished objects, but raw, unedited making, crochet hooks and paintbrushes included. What is interesting about this is that it is putting the making centre stage.
I know that having others watch you creating or see WIP can be daunting, but that’s the thing with creativity. It always requires a degree of vulnerability. Expressing ourselves can feel scary. Sharing our style, thoughts and ideas with the world means risking people not liking what we do. And we want people to like us and what we do. But does this mean we only create in order to please other people? What would happen if we created just for us? I don’t mean keeping everything to ourselves and not sharing what we create, but creating with the purpose of creating, not for the end result.
In her book ‘Daring Greatly’*, Brene Brown talks about how vulnerability and creativity are linked to self worth and one line really stood out ‘…effort is is about what you do, not who you are’. Making, designing and creating all require us to be involved- to hammer metal, to paint, to write or to crochet. Yes, we are an integral part of the making, but we are the maker, not the make.
So without wanting to sound like I’m auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Or in this case, the making, not the finished object. And this relieves so much of the pressure, because we have the excuse to give that part of us who expects perfection that it isn’t finished yet. So that part of us that wants perfection? She can shush. Share your making with the world, the half-finished and the in progress and celebrate the messy act of creating rather than waiting for creative perfectionism.
If you have conquered your creative perfectionism, or have any questions feel free to comment below or message me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook! Want even more modern craft, creative inspiration and lovely ready-made jewellery? Sign up to my monthly email! Happy Making (without having to be perfect!)