You have an idea. And it is brilliant. In fact, it’s probably the best idea you’ve ever had. You spin out a sketch in five minutes, grab all the supplies you’ll need and, powered by excitement and confidence, plunge into the project like a whirlwind of productivity.
Then the novelty is worn away by the daily tedium of execution. The rush of inspiration fades, leaving you with, well, work. Often, wonderful and satisfying work, but still work. And you’re wishing for another hit of inspiration. Nothing new is happening in your current project and you need that high of a fresh idea.
And then a spark of an idea hits you in the back of the head. But it has nothing to do with your current project.
This has definitely happened to me a lot in the past. (It’s probably why I have a folder of unfinished stories and a box of unfinished jewelry.) New ideas are amazing, they fill me with a zest to create something. Sometimes, once a project is started it’s just not as shiny as it was in the beginning. And sometimes it’s the right choice to put that project aside and move on to something else for a time – or forever. Projects don’t always work out, I take what I can get from those and usually it’s still a good building block for future ideas.
But sometimes, it’s not the project’s fault. Sometimes it just needs more attention and an ox cart full of patience. Stone, being a slowly worked material that, in the words of a friend, “doesn’t just fall away when you hold a chisel to it,” is more like that, I think. This is when I know it’s time to move onto another part of the project. Carving rectangular-ish pedestals to planar perfection, for example, is arduous. Carving tail feathers is like solving a riddle, it consumes my brain with the challenge of making stone look like interwoven tendrils.
The hard part is knowing which projects to shelve, temporarily or permanently, and which ones to muscle through. I will say, college, with its schedule of classes and deadlines (and my desire to eventually graduate), has been good for building a habit of seeing projects through to the end. Now, as well as getting a rush from finding and starting on a new idea, I also love the feeling of seeing it finished. And, more importantly, I even love the process in between.
Soon, the tail feathers are going to get frustrating and then I’ll finally start on the birds for this bird sculpture! Switching things up always helps keep the excitement flowing!