This might sound weird for all I talk about the importance of practice and its necessity for becoming good at free motion quilting, but today I finally realized with a jolt like getting smacked in the head this simple truth:
Practice is never a waste of time.
I've been busy working on a project today that I can't show you right this second. It's definitely been a challenge and earlier this week I began getting obsessed with perfection. I found myself asking "what is the PERFECT design to use here? I CAN'T make the wrong choice!"
I honestly don't know a better recipe for killing creativity. Start with an ultimatum and ratchet the stress up a notch with a demand for instant perfection!
As I sorted through my feelings on this project, I began to see how silly I was being. I grabbed a piece of paper and pencil, sat down on the couch and said "Just play. I don't care what happens, just try something."
So I sat and drew and designed. I'd printed out plenty of paper so I could mess up again and again and it not matter. I got out of my way, shut up my mind, and just let loose with any idea that popped into my now empty head.
In the end I did finish my design, but I also became aware that what I had done was far more than just sketching - it was practicing.
I was practicing picking designs. This might not seem like something we would need to practice, but it is! Just like you gain skills in picking fabrics and finding color combinations you really like, we also need to find design combinations that are pleasing too.
This step is so often left out of quilt books (quilt as desired) that even I had fallen into the idea that I should somehow "magically" know which design is perfect in any given space. Guess what?! I don't know! I need to sketch it and audition it and argue with myself and see something else and compare and contrast and finally, in the end, PICK which one I like best.
Because there is absolutely NO PERFECT DESIGN. It doesn't exist! There is this design or that one or #325 or #15 and every single one of them will work in one way or another.
Just as there are no perfect fabric choices, there are no perfect quilting design choices. There is only the task of choosing.
And to choose, you have to give yourself time to practice, to think, to weigh the designs, to sketch, to play, and yes, to make as many mistakes as possible along the way.
I think from now on I'm going to sit down and say to myself "I need to make some mistakes today." just so I don't ever fall in this trap again of seeking perfection where perfection will never, ever exist.
Perfection isn't the point, and practice is never a waste of time. Two more golden rules I hope to never forget!
Now I'm sorry I can't actually show you what I'm doing, but suffice it to say you'll see it in a few months! So what have you been up to this week?
Simple rules for the FMQ Friday link up:
1. Link up with a post that features something about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here, or you can just post the FMQF button in your sidebar.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other FMQF links. Share your love of free motion quilting and make this weekly link up a fun way to connect.
Let's go make some mistakes!