Every year I go through a hurricane of glitter and ribbon as I craft as many gifts for the holidays as I can. My family has learned to embrace the homemade gifts as I hand them over like an excited child with a macaroni necklace. At the end of it all I am left with a sense of pride in knowing that my gifts all came from the heart. I’m also left with a crafting room that looks like a war zone and a complete lack of motivation for all things crafty. Some years the aftermath is so overwhelming I don’t know where to start. Its in this time that I follow five steps to help guide me out of my crafting funk.
1. Set Reasonable Goals and Expectations
Set your goals a little high but don’t set yourself up for disaster. If you know that project you want to finish will be time consuming don’t expect it to be completed in a couple of days. Give yourself plenty of time and energy to making a solid finished piece. If you are not sure you can get a project done then don’t sweat it and maybe shelve the idea for another time. Also be prepared for many trial and errors along the way and don’t give up after the first try explodes in the microwave.
2. Make a Calendar
If you are building a Cosplay for a specific Con than you already have a set deadline. But even with that deadline you should give yourself smaller deadlines to hit. If the Con you are planning to attend is in June, mark a calendar for each month to get one piece of your costume done. For instance, in January you will finish up the pants, February the top. Then March and April you will devote to accessories like shoes, hats, armor, etc. Finally May you can do the finishing touches. This breaks down a larger project into five smaller projects that are easier to manage.
If you don’t have a specific deadline for your project you can still break it into smaller projects to help you complete it. If you got an ugly or generic wall calendar for Christmas (like Beautiful Island Landscapes) use it to mark your deadlines for each element of the project. I use a whiteboard in my work space as a visual reminder for when parts of the project are due. I also recommend using a calendar linked to your email such as Google Drive to send reminders to you when a portion deadline is coming up. I know it sounds crazy to give yourself pressure of time to projects that are just for fun but if you do, you’ll find you can accomplish larger projects and dreams that you may never had before.
3. Purge your Work Space
You don’t want your work space to be featured on an episode of “Hoarders.” This time of year is ideal for cleaning it out. For me, the hardest part of cleaning my workspace is purging materials I acquired while working on projects. I always try to convince myself that I will use those materials again. Most of the time I won’t since those materials were specific to certain crafts. If I am not planning on making that same craft again and I can’t find any other use for the materials, then I throw it out. There is no sense in keeping materials that you won’t use and it will clear the space for new materials for future projects.
When it comes to unfinished projects cluttering my work area I try to remember how long its been since I started this project. If it has been more than about six months then I determine if I will ever actually finish that project. If I want to finish it, than that project goes on my calendar with a set deadline so it doesn’t sit around collecting dust. If I decide I won’t ever finish it then I let the project go. Once you’ve purged your work space you can really focus on how to improve it, like get a set of drawers to keep all materials in or a desk organizer for all the little things. When your work space is fully functioning it allows you to focus on the projects rather than where your projects went.
4. Scan in ideas
Scanner printer combos are a crafter’s best friend. Every time I have a wacky idea I sketch it out on whatever paper is available. Sometimes its in notebooks, sometimes on napkins from the local gyros place. I like to gather all of these sketches and ideas and scan them in at medium resolution. I don’t need a large file size, just large enough for me to view the idea on the monitor. Once you’ve scanned in your sketches you can categorize them into separate folders such as “ Cosplay Ideas” and “Cat Fez,” whatever crafting or theme you are in to. Once you’ve scanned in the sketch you can pitch it or keep them all in one box and out of sight.
If you are like me and are also inspired by the many creations online via Etsy or Pinterest or blogs, you can download those images and save them to the folders as well. This will help keep your work space organized as well as give you inspiration every time you turn on your computer.
5. Finish Before You Start
During your purge if there are any unfinished projects you decided to keep then those projects take priority over any new ones. When you create your calendar mark these projects first and if it is a larger project break it down to make it easier. If you have a deadline such as a Con cosplay you can work on both old and new simultaneously but don’t lose focus on that old focus project. Sometimes its a project you are genuinely passionate about and want to see through, just some where along the way you got side tracked. By putting it on the calendar and giving yourself reasonable deadlines you can get back into it and before you know it, its all finished. Like everything in life, there’s no reason to start something you have no intention of finishing and all too often craft projects get left behind.