How to Deal with Interests That You Regularly Fall in and out of Love with
Photo courtesy of Kathryn.

How to Deal with Interests That You Regularly Fall in and out of Love with

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

While there are many different kinds of multipotentialite, most of us tend to be either serialist or cyclical when it comes to our interests. The serialist moves sequentially from one interest to another and is unlikely to ever return to an interest once they’ve left it behind. The cyclical multipod, on the other hand, finds that many of their interests rotate round and round.

I’ve been reminded recently just how much my interests rotate in a cycle and how lots of my projects move onto the back burner for long periods before they circle round to the fore again.

About four years ago, I put some serious time into developing a range of kiln glass jewelry. I was totally fascinated by the medium and experimented extensively to hone my technique. I was pretty fired up (no pun intended) about this work and had big plans to get the range launched in boutiques and galleries.

Then one day I realized I’d become totally fed up with it.

It had become more frustrating than fascinating, so I took the decision to quit working on it for a while. My focus moved to the next shiny new thing – web design.

Before I knew it, a couple of years had passed and I’d barely given the jewelry a second thought. Now, totally out of the blue, I’ve started thinking about it again.

My mind’s buzzing with ideas for new designs and I feel inspired again. The time is right for me to pick up that interest again and start where I left off. How long my interest will be piqued this time, I have no way of knowing. But I do know that my interest is back.

If you’re like me and know that some of your interests will return, here are some ideas to help you settle back into them smoothly when they do.

1) Keep notes – lots and lots of notes

I have so many sketchbooks and notebooks. Seriously – it looks like I’m some kind of stationary fetishist. I scribble down loads of notes, partly for fear that, if I don’t write my ideas down, I’ll forget them and partly because I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

These notebooks are like old friends as they hold a snapshot of my whole thought process. When I’m ready to pick up an interest again, they help me to step back in time and it’s almost like stepping back inside my own head at the time I last was working on that idea.

2) Create a body of work

I know some people feel like they’re taking a step backward by returning to something they thought they’d left behind. This is where a shift in mindset can help breathe a whole new meaning into previously discarded projects.

Consider the concept of creating a body of work, made up of lots of different phases rather than one single lifetime achievement. I’m talking here about combining a number of small wins into a bigger body of work. There’s no reason some of those small wins can’t come from the same project, but they don’t have to and, if they do, they could come from different stages of its development.

I’m applying this philosophy to my jewelry work as I start an entirely new phase of my project. It’s not about going back to complete what I was doing before; it’s more about taking it to the next level.

3) Mothball projects

Many of us are familiar with the multipotentialite tendency of leaving a trail of uncompleted projects behind us. If you know you’re likely to rediscover an interest at at later date, you won’t want to chuck everything away. But what do you do with all that stuff in the meantime?

Unless you’re living in a mansion, you’ll probably run out of work space sooner or later, so it’s worth having a system to archive your belongings until they’re needed.

This could mean physically packing all your resources for each project into boxes or archiving them digitally, depending on the nature of your interest. Think of it as mothballing them or putting them into temporary stasis. Then you can relax, knowing that, when you’re ready to pick your project up again, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips.

A lot has changed in the time my jewelry work has been sitting on the back burner and I’ve come back to the art form having gained new experiences, insights, and skills. It’s almost as though I needed to go through a period of transformation in order to come back to it fresh and with new insight.

Perhaps taking a breather is something everyone, not just multipotentialites, should consider building into their projects. Maybe a break is what we all need to get that motivation back?

Over to you!

Do you have interests which go rotate in a cycle? How do you deal with them as they come and go again and again?

bevBev is an artist, creativity coach and founder of Kickass Creatives, a website offering practical support to frustrated creatives. She’s over 20 years of working in the arts: experimenting with everything from performing in a fire circus and managing a hiphop dance company, through to web consultancy and jewellery design. Bev is passionate about using her experience to enable others to fully develop (rather than hide) their multitude of talents too. Connect with her on Twitter @creativekickass.

11 Comments

  1. This is a fantastic article, Bev. I have tons of half baked projects in my brain. Having moved around a lot and being a serial purger, I don’t actually have physical remnants of old projects or supplies for old projects. In fact, that’s my biggest struggle… not selling or giving away supplies for old interests! It ends up costing me quite a bit of money to get interested in something again and again. Archiving notes and other things digitally is a great idea, but I need some help in the “Don’t get rid of that quite yet” arena.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Jennifer
      Yeah, I know how tempting it is to get rid of all that clutter! Sometimes when I hang on to stuff I’m not currently using, I feel like I’m in danger of turning in to a complete hoarder. :)

      I like the idea of having a “Don’t get rid of that YET” sign – maybe it would work for both the hoarder and minimalist parts of our minds?!!

  2. Karen says:

    This site, Barbara Sher’s ‘What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything?’ and Margaret Lobenstine’s ‘The Renaissance Soul’ are creating huge shifts in my attitudes. It’s only a week in, and I can feel myself assembling the baggage I’m going to ditch.

    Seeing the model of the Sybil Scanner was HUGE for me. The idea of gathering my “failed” or “aborted” projects into groups under the heading of Writing Fiction, Articles and Essays, Handcrafts, History, Healing, etc., so that I can either pass them on to someone else who is looking for a project to run with or return to them later when the juiciness is back is a revelation.

    This site is amazing. I’m profoundly grateful to the friends who suggested it and the books.

    “It’s almost as though I needed to go through a period of transformation in order to come back to it fresh and with new insight.”

    YES! For those who keep returning to the same kinds of projects, it seems there’s an incubation period – or several – necessary whilst the work integrates itself into your unconscious and then returns. It’s like a sleep-wake cycle, or seasonal shift, or your compost heap breaking down what’s been put on it into rich loam to nourish your garden.

    Actually, this lends itself to lovely natural metaphors, in which some projects are annuals, others biannuals, others perennials, and some are self-seeding.

    Or our projects need their beauty sleep.

    The principles of permaculture work beautifully with this understanding.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Karen
      I love the way you frame it as an ‘incubation’ period! That’s so true as it’s not just about taking a break, there is something about needing time away from the project so it can develop.

      Also love your references to plants – that analogy works really well for me. Just in the process of sowing this year’s seeds so it resonates a lot at the moment. :)

  3. Carol says:

    Like so many Puttylike posts, this one is RIGHT ON! I could think of MANY “in and out of love” projects that have graced (and still grace) my life. Scrapbooking comes to mind. I took this up about 15 years ago when my kids were babies… It sounds little old lady-ish but it was the perfect outlet for a working mom with 2 little ones. I would meet my like-place-in-life girlfriends for a Friday night of sharing photos, wine and this crazy paper-crafting. For a non-artist like myself, I found that I could both create something and preserve wonderful memories at the same time. Well, the kids have gotten older, I have moved to a different state and paper scrapbooking has gone to wayside in favor of digital. Even more than those factors is that my priorities have changed and I would feel overwhelmed to restart (I left off in 2003 or so). I LOVE my prior creations and in the once/year opportunity I have to take this up again for a weekend, I know I would once again enjoy it. I still have all of my supplies (too many) and a few half finished books.
    Someday…??? (-:

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Carol
      Yey, I like the idea of holding on to the thought of “someday”. You never know when the time will be, but you know that it will come. It’s kind of exciting in that it’s unpredictable – a pleasant surprise to look forward to when you least expect it. :)

  4. Jen says:

    I totally get what you mean! I hate junk and stuff, makes me feel like my mind is literally sprawled all over the place like a drunken sailor.
    But, I’m learning to live with it because as much as I try to digitize everything, I find it is always the scrap pieces of paper with scribbled doodles from phone calls and remnants of my burrito that take me back in time to the frame of mind of where I left off. Bam! there I am like ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Jen
      Hehe! I love Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – party on dude! Seriously though, there’s a beautifully tangible and tactile quality to the napkin notes and doodles – it’s like a design artifact in its own right.

      I think digital archiving works for some things, but others clearly need to be stored as real objects. I guess it’s about minimizing and simplifying where possible, in order to have the space to store the objects/artifacts which are most important to you to keep. :)

  5. Ros says:

    Thanks so much for this. I was just about to get rid of a whole lot of stuff – old projects etc because I was going mad with so much unfinished – and new ideas pouring in. I have just discovered today Barbara Sher’s Scanners idea and this website and it is SUCH A RELIEF to realise I am not alone and not such a total loser because I can’t seem to stick to one thing.
    I have begun to make a list of all that is unfinished and all new ideas and decided to give time to all of them. This resulted in me totally finishing two projects today – flippen eck!

  6. Bev Webb says:

    Hey Ros
    Great to hear from you – so glad you’ve found us! Flippin eck indeed for finishing 2 projects today – that’s amazing progress. Sounds like you’ll be getting through that big list of projects in no time at this rate! :)

  7. Melayahm says:

    I did actually get rid of most of my jewellery stuff, to a women’s shelter, about a year ago, and now I’m regretting…some of it. Some of it I’d outgrown anyway (like plastic beads, ugh!), but there is some I wish I’d hung on to. But I did keep my tools and some of the good stuff, and just as well, cos now I’m thinking of doing some again, alongside making artist bears. And I’ve also got an urge to do more polymer clay work, even bought myself a mini oven (that could be rash, although I do use the polymer clay for parts of the bears as well, so it’s probably healthier than cooking pc in the household oven!) I have always been this way, many hobbies that I go on and off again. It wasn’t till I found Emilie’s site that I knew there were others like me out there. :)

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