I have an erratic creative process. When making a quilt, painting a picture, knitting a sweater or writing a piece I start with a vague idea. As when we were chopping firewood up in the mountains. I looked down and saw the sun filtered through the fall-colored leaves of the wild blueberries. They were vivid green, dark blue, purple, orange and all hues of red, all at once. Set against a background of wet glittering moss, it was beautiful beyond words. I knew I had to make something to carry that moment with me into the winter.
As soon as we were inside, I started to pull out all the knitting wool, embroidery floss, quilting fabrics I had. Surprisingly much, as we were at the cabin, I had fun though, well into the evening, and then nothing made sense. I was one step further and had an idea board of colors, I did not have a project, the living room was a total mess, everyone was hungry, I was tired.
To me a well known, creative tangle. My first thought was I have to do something, after all this mess, I cannot just clear everything away! I was just reaching for my cutter, to at least do the pieces for a quilt. I envisioned myself in my rocking chair in front of the fire, sewing the most glorious quilt, as soon as dinner was over. I did ruin some golden batik, I was stressed, and did not feel the joyous calm I do when I am in a creative flow.
This is when I know I have to stop, and do nothing. Almost,nothing that is.
The nothing that helps me on at this stage is to clear and sort. To fold the big pieces of fabric, to put the small ones in a nice basket. I make all the wool into neat balls, as I go everything that did not make it to my idea board is cleared away. I wonder where the empty teacups came from, and take them to the kitchen. I lay the rest out on my work table, and then I do nothing, I quit, for now. When I come back to the project, my mind has been playing with the elements of a possible project, not a mess.
To me, this approach work in any mess, especially when my brain has come to a stop. No matter how much I try to force on, it only gets worse.
Then I stop. I clear my desk, or the space I am working at. If it is a mental problem, I make it visible by putting it on paper. Every big and small thread of thought that disturbs me. Then I sort. Normally the problem has fewer pieces than I thought, it was just entangled by all the other stuff I tried to remember. When everything is on its own list, I take a break, I do nothing on the problem. When I come back, the elements of the problem has not altered a bit, but I can see them clearly and hopefully make some sense of it. By doing nothing, actually before I have done nothing at all.
And the blueberry leaves? They ended up as a knitted jacket, well, they will be as I have not figured out which buttons to use. Guess it is time to do…something.