When a creative project is in progress, things can shift. It’s good practice to be observant to how we react to shifts. Some shifts are welcomed, and others resisted. Sometimes ideas can take turns that weren’t expected and most of the time we don’t know entirely even know what the desired outcome is until we see it.
A process like this needs some breathing room, some open air, some potential for the unknown to be discovered. Sometimes we need to find acceptance in the loss of our momentum in order to rediscover momentum again.
This post is part two: the middle of the project.
About a few months into the project I was on a roll, consistently pulling cards from my scrappy trial deck, lighting a candle, illustrating and tweaking, and moving along steadily. I had a little routine going, and managed to weave the steady progress into my everyday (which also includes a lot of other things, like managing employees, sending/answering emails, designing the rest of my line for new releases, etc.) Somewhere in there we went on a trip out west and I was able to completely let go of work – it was so nice. I remember a couple of days went by where I didn’t check my email at all, not even intentionally! It was the most refreshing thing! I felt completely free of habits that were locking down my spirit to a screen. When we returned, I slowly but surely realized that my momentum was lost, not only in bad habits, but my good ones too. It took me a few weeks to get back into the groove of my deck, but it took a totally different shape. My process changed a little. No longer was I drawing a card every day I could systematically, but now I was doing several at a time when I felt a spontaneous surge of inspiration. I began coming up with completely new ideas for cards and ditching old ones that didn’t really ring. I felt a new wave of inspiration. I was really honing in.
Originally I thought my break was detrimental to my flow, but now I’m thankful for it. Sometimes when I set rules for myself for a creative project, I limit myself a little too much. Rules and intentions are wonderful things, but so is SPACE.
Space allows us to expand beyond what we think our limits are. A good yin & yang balance of LIMITS/SPACE is now what I strive for. I felt guilty and strange for a little bit about letting the process morph. I thought: Did the magic dissolve? Am I going against my intention? But after a little while, I forgave myself for placing such a judgement on my process. Intentions should come with a little breathing room. Letting this all unravel in a way that space has allowed for is something to celebrate. Keeping to confined parameters when you really want to stretch out a little is never doing your creativity a favor. A lot of good card designs, some of my favorite ones, came from that time of allowing myself to embrace a bit of space. Following those spontaneous, genuine, upwellings of inspiration felt like a good, different kind of flow. It reminded me that sometimes creative projects have a mind of their own and this is what was needed.
Here are another few things and changes that happened. More toward the end of the project I decided to keep all of the illustrations black & white. Originally I had them in pastel rainbow gradients, and for some reason after a while, I thought, this isn’t so much me, and too complicated. I also completely changed the cover design from something I thought I loved to something I REALLY REALLY love. Also, the entire first 3 designs I made didn’t even make it into the final deck. All of these things could not have happened had I rushed through this. Time is on our side.