What I “achieved” in Barcelona
well… nothing really
Last year I lived about 7 months in Barcelona
And for some reason …I just didn’t make things happen
These months were spend well
food for the soul, ears and eyes ( music, food, art)
long walks at the beach
Probably exactly what I needed
this ‘not getting anything done” was pretty frustrating.
My nature is to come up with ideas, see possibilities and make things work.
Maybe even most of my identity (me feeling me) and self-worth comes from these experiences of realizing projects and getting things done.
So the painful thing was
That I tried
To realize one of my ideas
But nothing wanted to flow, get done or work out
Except for… a blanket
In these months I knitted 1 blanket
4 by 1 meter
with fringes on the side
I started it
Did the work
And finished it
And got to experience the satisfaction that comes with realizing something.
This was an interesting experience because – knitting was not one of my skills, and even the ‘making something with my hands’ is new for me.
So it makes me wonder
Why then did this, of all things I tried, work out?
Maybe you are stuck in a creative project too, or like to do your work with more ease.
I reflected on this experience and came to 5 learnings about realizing a creative project.
learnings that can be applied to other projects too,
and get the river of creating flowing again.
5 ways to make a creative process flow with more ease
- Make sure it’s ignited by a true and clear desire. This was not something I had to do, or was logical to do. I had a clear desire for the more sensual activities. This is what motivated me to spend months last year gardening, cooking and doing woodwork in the mountains. Now I arrived in the city with a desire to work with colours, soft fabrics and nice smells – like knitting with natural wool. Other ideas I had came with all kinds of (unconscious) expectations…in order to make money, connect with others or make it work in BCN. Nothing wrong with wanting these things, but in this case, it helped to keep the motivation true and light – in this case: no expectations further then pleasing the senses during the experience of knitting itself.
- Define a concrete, doable project to commit to. I googled knitting and was drawn to the “All You Knit Is Love” – shop. I got on my bicyle and dropped by, brainstormed with the owner and committed to make a blanket by choosing a rather simple pattern, picking the colours and buying the necessary wool – so… the blanket felt already as good as done.
- Look for guidance and peer group. This shop organized weekly open-knitting hours, in which you could join any time, have tea and work on your project. Besides just enjoying the quiet atmosphere of the shop, the smell and beauty of natural colours of the fabrics all around, these open hours made me sit next to other starters and also the advanced amateurs with their impressive projects, like knitting a zombie woman (see pic below). They could answer questions, show me how to do things and while chatting creative ideas popped up on the spot ( “What if you use your left over yarn to finish the blanket with a colourful fringe” “OMG that’s so awesome” :-O) Again here, the open hour was available but there was no pressure of having to show up or having to achieve anything.
Often I read about the good aspects of use peer-pressure, but for me this was working much better – instead of being motivated by fear for missing out, falling behind or making a fool of myself – > now I showed up because I really wanted to, no other reason ( you see…makes it light again).
- Make the actual work a positive experience. Ok, I know, it sounds super exciting to start to knit a blanket and learn a new skill. But after the first excitement it’s actually quite boring – in the end this knitting is basically making the same movement for hours in a row. And at that moment it’s easy to start a new projects ( wow I could make a linen top :-O ) get distracted in the city of soul or forget about it anyways. For me it helped to make my knitting time good experiences – making it my meditation, combine it with drinking tea and eating freshly backed cookies and often I would listen to a podcast or have a phone call with a friend. You see…in this way my unconscious was learning; knitting equals enjoyment.
- Hold your horses. Steven Pressfield ( War of Art), tells the story about a race horse trainer. This trainer made sure that he stops the training when the horses are still full on, enjoying and engaged in the activity. By forcing them to stop early, they can’t wait till the next day to be let out and do the training again (instead of exhausting them by hours of training, and build up their resistance to the training, so they are hard to motivate again)
And indeed, at some point I noticed I felt resistance even to the knitting ( and thought, oh not this again!) I noticed myself wanting to finish the damn blanket, and made a bit too many hours in a cramped position – till I didn’t want to touch the project at all.
I got myself going again, by starting short 15 min. sessions and in this way started to look forward again. ( and anyways – what’s this hassle about wanting it to get done)
I’m going to try these learnings out in other areas of my life.
Like writing…do short sessions, with good music and café latte’s.
Teaching…stop a session when I’m still enjoying.
And you? What stands out for you in this list?
What can you apply in other areas of your life?
<< See the result below – the blanket that I carry wherever I go now, to make myself feel at home and warm quickly – maybe exactly what I needed to achieve ;-)>>
Spotify song to this post Ayla Nereo – Look at the River