OK, so I had this project planned, and when I say planned, I mean planned. From previous experience I know if I don’t put a plan in place some things never happen. And I wanted this one to happen.
The project I had in mind was one I was really excited about. I’d been thinking about doing some sculptural casting for weeks and had made the effort to gather all the materials ready for a weekend of experimentation.
- Casting plaster? Check.
- Modelling clay? Check.
- Sculpting tools? Check.
- Date in my diary? Check
- Excited about making a start? Check.
I think it was fair to say I had this project nailed down and ready to go.
So how was it that on the Saturday morning in question, instead of finding myself at the workbench in my studio, I ended up browsing sari and scarf fabrics in my local Asian fabric store?
Any ideas? No, me neither. All I know is that, on this particular day, going to the fabric store felt far more important than what I had originally planned. I had gone off, as they say, on a bit of a tangent. Well, maybe not just a bit. It was quite a large tangent, if truth be told.
The fabric store was just the beginning though, as, having acquired several meters of fabric and various haberdashery goodies, I returned home to drag my sewing machine out of storage.
I talked in a recent post about how to deal with interests you regularly fall in and out of love with. For me, one of these hobbies is dressmaking.
I can honestly say I haven’t used my sewing machine in three or more years. In that time it’s been happily gathering dust under a table in my studio, so perhaps it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that when I tried to start it, I found it had completely seized up.
As a multipotentialite I have a fascination with how things work.
It was only a matter of minutes before I’d located a suitable screwdriver and had whipped off most of the machine’s outer casing. “I’m sure I can fix this,” I thought to myself, “I mean how hard can it be?”
I fired up the laptop and began trawling YouTube for tutorials on sewing machine maintenance. A quick trip back to the fabric store to purchase some machine oil, a little lubrication of some key moving parts, and an hour later the machine was running like a dream.
That’s when I started rummaging through my collection of old sewing patterns and Google-ing instructions on inserting darts and finishing seams. As you can probably tell by now, the original project I had planned for the day was left well and truly behind.
Learning To Embrace Distractions
My day wasn’t exactly going as I had planned, but I was having a really good time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spontaneity and going with the flow, but this was one day I had something planned. It genuinely was something I wanted to do, so I couldn’t even put my journey off on a tangent down to procrastination and displacement activities.
I had been subject to a classic case of pluralist distraction, as I had disappeared off after a shiny new idea.
I guess I’m getting rather used to this happening, as it’s not the first time and I’m pretty darned sure it won’t be the last one either. What has changed though is my approach to dealing with it.
In the past I would have gotten very frustrated and berated myself for my lack of focus. I’ve kind of mellowed a bit in recent times though, probably because I’m getting better at recognizing the patterns that my pluralism takes.
Clearly the dressmaking was something that had ignited my inspiration on this particular day, so instead of trying to suppress it, I allowed myself the time to enjoy it. I think that’s definitely progress and I’m proud that I was able to recognize the distraction for what it was and work with it rather than fight against it.
Over to you!
Have you got a story of going off on a tangent that you’d like to share? How do you deal with distraction when it strikes?
Bev 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.