Over on The Glass Haven and other lampworking boards there's been some desultory discussion about custom orders. The basic positions seem to be:
* Custom orders pay the bills but are not exciting, and can inhibit creativity because they have made what was fun just more work.
* Custom orders are good ways to keep your skills up during dry creative spells, or are not a problem because the process itself is so much fun.
I vacillate between camps. Right now, for example, I'm feeling unexcited. I think mostly that's because I am feeling overwhelmed. This week, but it is also registration week at my university. Later today I have a faculty meeting. It would only take an hour, but because my university is spread out over two--soon to be three--cities, and I don't live in the "home" city, the drive will be a total of 3.5 hours. Tomorrow I need to work registration most of the day, and again on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and early evenings. Friday we have our departmental beginning of term session, and Monday classes begin. In my lampworking world, I have a trunk show coming up weekend after next, and a show in September. In the middle of all of that is my custom order, and so I find myself putzing, resisting, and not getting ANY of the work done -- which makes me feel overwhelmed.
How can one break out of that? Ironically, I know that I enjoy both my workaday job and my lampworking, and that when I can buckle down to DOING those tasks that I will not only enjoy them, but will jumpstart my creativity for new and continuing projects in both worlds.
So I am taking a leaf from two principles. The first is breaking down tasks, into baby steps, seven to ten minute jobs. I can't get the whole house clean, but I can fold the laundry. I can't turn on my torch this morning, but I can put away the glass I bought, neaten my supply cabinet, and make my workspace a pleasant place to get to. I can't finish my syllabus, but I can find two article references. And the like. All are small, accomplishable steps that make me feel more in control. (FInishing the blog entry after a few days' hiatus is one of those baby steps!)
The second is fine-tuning my attitude. I don't want to empty the dishwasher. Bleargh. But I do want to have a pleasant kitchen. If I tell myself that I am making a pleasant kitchen, that's more appealing than emptying the washer. It's better to make things interesting and manageable for students rather than slogging through a syllabus. It's better to be making a calm peaceful state and an enjoyable weekend rather than planning the first night (because having a plan NOW means a calm, peaceful weekend in which I can torch.) Not being able to torch means that I can be resting after last week's sustained torch time. And working on a custom order means that I can be productive while my brain begins to think of new ideas.
How do you handle these issues?