Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Creativity Tips: Power

"When we are angry or depressed in our creativity, we have misplaced our power. We have allowed someone else to determine our worth, and then we are angry at being undervalued." - Julia Cameron

As quilters and fiber artists, we often times give others our power without even realizing we've done so. Once we no longer have that power and feel undervalued, we stop enjoying the act of creating. That can be a hard place to find yourself in.

How do we lose power?

Taking on the financial responsibility of others:
If someone can't afford a piece, they may ask you to lower your price considerably. You might do this out of temptation to just sell something - but you may find yourself resentful later. Why not suggest pieces you have that are in their price range - or consider offering to do a similar piece on commission within their price range? (Of course, if you can barely make your rent you should obviously take that into consideration!)

Friends often times do not realize the work and time that goes into our pieces. Especially if they are not quilters/artists themselves. Sometimes, they might expect things for free:
"If I buy the fabric, can you put this all together and quilt it, free?" I might be a bit harsh, but my answer would likely be along the lines of "Can you come and scrub my floors and bathrooms......free?" Okay, maybe not. But perhaps you want to do this for your friend - but realize your time IS valuable. Perhaps a trade would be an option? Have kids? Ask for babysitting hours! Have a home project? Ask the friend to put some time in helping you with it!

Time Suckers:
This one can be really difficult. If you're really trying to make a go at it, quilting/artwise then every hour in your day matters and is needed (truth be told, you could probably use MORE hours, right?) Time sucking can be the result of phone calls, emails, groups, guilds, etc. While these are all things we need and in fact enjoy, there have to be limitations. If you're spending all of your time on phone calls with someone, or have over extended yourself group/guild-wise, you are not going to have time for creativity. You're going to get cranky! You haven't valued your creativity enough, to make sure you make time for it.

My phone's voicemail is set to say that it's likely I am working in the studio. The key is working! Now that I am really pushing myself, most hours of my day are accounted for. Think of the things we need to do: creating, washing/ironing fabric, dyeing, writing for blog, writing submissions, preparing and organizing classes, not to mention laundry, dishes, vacuuming, litterboxes, cooking, and errands. It is OKAY to not take a phone call, or to tell the person, "You know, I really am busy. I have X minutes to talk, is that okay?" Treat your creative time like it is as important as a "real day job" - because IT IS!

The Bottom Line:
What it really comes down to, is being respectful to yourself. You can hope others will be as respectful, but you can't force them to be. You can however control our side of the issue; not reduce the price on a piece that took months to do, not take a phone call when you're in the middle of something, not let niceness force you into a situation where you aren't doing what makes YOU happy and feel good.

Your happiness, and your feelings about creating and your art, is ultimately your responsibility. It's your job to make choices that help you, not hinder you. Are you doing what's best for you and your art currently?

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