26 August 2008

Creative Work vs. Creative Play

work: exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.

play: exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.

I used to be careful to define what I do as creative play, rather than creative work. My idea was that play was less stressful. If I was playing on something and didn't like it, it didn't matter because I was just doing it for fun. But if I was working on something and it didn't work out, then those hours of toil would have been wasted.

This morning I realized that my thoughts have changed. I gladly refer to what I am doing as work rather than play. My morning pieces are indeed an "effort directed to produce or accomplish something," an idea that would have scared me six months ago.

What I want to accomplish is not just a finished 6" x 9" mini-quilt every morning. (Although I do feel a sense of satisfaction and pride from watching the stack of quilts grow.) My overarching goal is larger than that. It's more about the process than the product. I want to become a better artist and the only way I can is to actually do the work.

And work it is. Six weeks of waking early and heading to my studio requires focused effort. Even though I've become a morning person over the past couple years, working in the morning requires me to ignore the beckoning of my laptop and cozy recliner in favor of my studio. I head downstairs, collect my thoughts, and begin selecting fabrics and sketching ideas for that morning's piece. That is work.

After six weeks, I am even more committed to this process, to my work. I learn something from each piece, whether I like it or not. There is no risk of wasting time or toil, because I often learn more from pieces that don't work than those that do. So work is what I do and I love it.

I can't wait to go back to work tomorrow.

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