Procrastination and The Creative Process


Green Spools, Free Motion QuiltingAfter reading,  “Franz Kafka was a Great Procrastinator” by Mason Currey– a discussion of creative rituals, I started thinking about my own work process…

In the article, Mr. Currey asserts that creatives procrastinate on their projects in order to “ratchet up the pressure, which is bad for the nerves, but good for the work.”

When it comes to creativity,  I’m an inveterate procrastinator…

Creativity takes conscious and subconscious thinking time…

Procrastination often pays off…

Most of my quilts languish at several stages along the way…time to consider the possibilities…

I call it “incubating”…it is a necessary part of MY creative ritual.

Consider your creative rituals… Do YOU procrastinate?

Green Spools, Free Motion QuiltingI’m off…but first, a few hours minutes on Pinterest…

Hmmm…Maybe M. Currey has a point!


Lori the Lollygagger

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28 thoughts on “Procrastination and The Creative Process

  1. Rosemary B here:
    I think artists are better at knowing what can be held off for more thinking and when to just dive in. Funny, I always think of it as still studying.Yes, we are doing other things, looking at other things, but that is the studying part…. right?
    Have a marvelous day getting some things done.

  2. I call it the “pondering” phase. Absolutely essential when you’re trying to be creative. But I do have to be careful that I don’t “ponder” indefinitely. Eventually I “just do it” and see where it leads. Incidentally, I learned to “ponder” from my mechanic husband who lays out every step of a job in his head before starting it. This phase used to annoy me when we did a project together because it involved seemingly endless discussion, but I have come to appreciate it.

    • Another great word–“ponder”. So much better than “incubate”. It’s interesting that your mechanic husband also uses this to visualize his work. We all have a process that we can’t alter too much without bad results.

  3. I almost always procrastinate. I refer to it as simmering. A good sauce taste much better when left on the stove for a while to simmer. And so do many of my creative endeavors. It used to bother me that I would start a top and not be sure how I was going to quilt it. Or it would bother me that I would start the quilting the motifs on a quilt but not know what I was going to use for fill. I have however become a lot more relaxed and realized that letting the quilt stew and spending time sketching, looking at the quilt, looking at pictures of quilts an idea or two would form. And finally I would settle on one that I liked. I have also found that I can not PUSH this process. If I do, I am almost always unhappy with the results.

    In fact the quilt that I am working on now, I pretty much started each stage unsure what I would do at the next step!

    • I LOVE the term “simmer”. I’m going to use that from now on–sounds better than “incubate”. I agree entirely that I can not PUSH the process… Thanks for your thoughts!

      • Simmer is very close to marinate, which is what I use. We are outdoor grillers here and I love marinated food, so I say I’m letting the ideas marinade for a while. It’s fun to read all the ideas people have! Thanks everyone for sharing.

  4. I believe this pondering, simmering, percolating (I love these descriptions) phase is a very necessary part of the quilting process. At least I have found this to be true for me.

    • I love all the words you’ve been using, too! I often have to stop working on something because I’m not sure what to do next. Most often it is the quilting aspect. Sometimes not thinking about it allows your brain to let a solution pop out of it’s hiding place!

  5. I haven’t thought ( pondered, simmered, percolated) this out before. I’ve just said I need to study some before moving on.
    Sooooo interesting to think of processes from other perspectives. Thank you.

  6. Well, Ladies it has been good to hear your thoughts about”procrastinating” this morning and know I’m not the only one. The new terms are great for future descriptions when my family wonders why the next quilt isn’t finished YET. I agree the time is needed for my sanity

  7. Isn’t it interesting how so much is conveyed in the language we choose. When we say procrastinate – there is negativity; when we say simmer- it becomes part of the creative process.
    The problem is knowing when the simmering needs to be “enough”. So, it seems, there is a continuum from “simmer” to “simmering too long” – that is why I have found I am most creative with a deadline –to prevent the project from getting to the “back of the closet” phase.
    Have a wonderful day.

  8. Yes, you’re right. Walking away from the quilt at the end of a sewing session allows me to think about what I just did and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. My best solutions come by “sleeping on it”. And I’m not as likely to make dumb mistakes that I have to pick out the next day.

  9. Can’t say I’ve done that so much with quilting, but I’m an IT person by trade and in my early days when I did a lot of programming, I used to put knotty problems on the “back burner” and eventually the solution would present itself.

  10. I’m a professional procrastinator. It’s my super power! I’ve been stalled on a wedding quilt, but I’ve finished a bunch of UFOs in the meantime. My friend calls it pro-quiltinating.

  11. I try to have 2-3 projects going because I do need to step back sometimes to think – usually when I am stumped as to which way to head next on a quilt – I leave it out on a bed in my sewing room where I’ll see it and just let the colors/patterns/ play in my visual senses trying not to “think ” about it. It is amazing how the answer will pop into my head a day or so later. In the meantime I try to tackle something smaller to fill my time and soothe my “quilting obcession”.

  12. I agree with you Lori about the thinking process and creativity. I try not to have too many projects going at one time as it is a bit overwhelming to me but, I do spend time contemplating the different things that I could do when I am creating designs or colors for a quilt or appliqué or quilting designs. I must admit though, I can be a real procrastinator and it has nothing at all to do with the creative process! LOL

  13. It just must be a part of the creative process because we all seem to do it. Like many others, I never considered it as procrastinating, at all. That sounds so negative. I may not be physically working on a particular piece, but my brain always is!

  14. Sometimes I can’t make up my mind whether I’m procrastination or if I’ve just used all of my energy with my husband and four kids that there’s none left for fibery stuff when I do have a few minutes to myself to work on a project.

  15. Choices, choices, choices … is filled with them.
    I prefer to think of “down time ” as time to research for the best choices. “Incubating” sounds good, tho. You have to renew your inspirations from time to time!! Whether it’s on Pinterest, or “Inbox Jaunt “, or just going “shop -hopping”, they all contribute to your creative fuel!
    Never call it “procrastination” 🙂

  16. Wow so many ways to say ‘creating’! My brain needs to filter all the possibilities; once they have been dealt by the subconsious, I magically have a clearer vision of what to do. Sometimes a picture, a word, sight or sound just helps an idea to percolate to the top and voilla; creativity blossoms. That’s my excuse for having more than one or two projects on the go. Fortunately my hubby works the same way, so neither of us is stressed by having to meet deadlines; well most of the time. So lucky to have a stress free and happy retirement.

  17. All my projects come together as I go along…something I need for a gift is usually what gets an idea going…but usually somewhere through a project I’ll get to a step that I need to…..wait for it…………………this can go on for days but something perfect always seems to come to mind. There is no forcing it! So I never considered it as procrastination…it can be sometimes I guess when I think about it…I will settle on a decision if a deadline draws near and can’t seem to make up my mind otherwise.
    My hubster just dives in no matter what it is…it kind of drives me nuts…makes me all of a sudden turn into the trouble shooter problem solver…exhausting! LOL!

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