originally written for make and meaning by on MARCH 12, 2010
Hmm. Beginner’s Luck. It must exist, because it’s an oft used phrase, right? But I have been wondering about Beginner’s Luck. Is it really about luck? Is it only for beginners? And is there a way to harness this seemingly flukey success, even if you are an old hand? Hm.
Speaking of old hands, it all started when I was chatting to my friend Anita. (She’s an ace chick, not old, but quite handy in case you don’t know her.) So there we were, Anita and I, stitching along together, sipping chai and eating home-made cinnamon scrolls. We were having a really nice time. We got to chatting about a friend of hers who has JUST started sewing and is REALLY quite good at it already. We were marveling at the greatness of this, how speedily and enthusiastically her friend has taken to crafting. And we weren’t being kindly encouraging or patronizing. Nope. Her friend sews beautifully. We were forming a fan club, to be honest. I guess we were in awe of the way she approached sewing. Kind of common-sense and positivity rolled into one. A total renegade, can-do attitude. Just tearing up the cutting board and tearing along with her machine like she was born to it. Awesome.
It’s something that has been on my mind a lot. We don’t all dive in so easily when it comes to being creative. I think that we often become intimidated by the beautiful work of other crafters, by the fear of failure, by instructions, by our own expectations, by the way our hands won’t do what we want, by the wondering what to do next, by the desire to hurry to the end product, by fabric choices, by medium, by the need to make something useful, by the desire to appear accomplished, by the aim to make something saleable, by the superior abilities of crafty relatives or friends. Phew. That’s a lot of things to be intimidated by, isn’t it? It’s kind of daunting to see them all written down, actually. It makes my stomach tighten a bit. Ick. And that’s the point. I think that thinking about all these factors can stop our creativity from flowing as it might, throwing crazy obstacles in the path of the natural journey our making might take. I think it’s really easy to become overwhelmed by these sorts of thoughts and by getting a bit ahead of ourselves. But let’s try not to. I know that it’s tricky, but I think we owe it to ourselves to take a deep breath and make something anyway.
I think that some people are brave, like our ‘lucky’ beginners. They throw off the baggage that some of us come with, or indeed they lost it in transit or travel sans suitcase. They just dive in, boots and all. They have their blinkers on, are snacking on cookies, humming along and avoiding the hurdles altogether because they are too busy having a good time. And they make good stuff. Not perfect. But good. Sometimes even great. They’ve stopped thinking so much and have just started doing. They make stuff full of the best intentions, laden with gusto and lovely true-to-them crafty DNA. They learn as they go, don’t judge themselves too harshly and embrace their ‘mistakes’.
I think that’s it right there. Some of us worry, plan, procrastinate, hope, berate ourselves, compare, over-plot, over-think, fear. And some of us turn up the music, drowning out all that chatter and just do. (And, I am sure, some of us think and do, clever multi-taskers that we are.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love the thinking part a lot, but if the thinking is paralysing the doing then we need to take a leaf from the beginner’s book. Have a serious word to ourselves. Make a cup of tea. Eat cookies. Slow down. Shake it out and loosen up. Make like the beginners, turn up the music and hum along. The humming will drown out those scary voices. Let our making time flow happily without worrying about all that other stuff. Let’s remember to have fun, enjoy the process and trust in our own abilities.
So, how is it for you? Do you know a prodigious beginner? Or are you a bit of a creative tortoise? Are you a late bloomer? Or are you an irreverent beginner? Are your own expectations a bit of a shackle? Or do they fuel your crafty success? Do you turn up the music? Or are you still thinking about which music to play?! I would LOVE to know!