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Struggling With Motivation

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billw

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Right so I had to put my almost daily efforts in my garage (I'd love to say it's a workshop, but it's a corner of the garage) and got through quite a few projects and thoroughly enjoyed them. However I've had to start university work again, and the concept of doing everything at home has made me feel a bit lethargic as I sit thinking "I'm meant to be working on my assignments" whereas in fact I am ahead of where I need to be by a fair way.

I'm halfway through making a box, which has dovetails, which I dread with a passion. I have also made a massive pig's ear of virtually every piece of wood that's meant to make the damned thing so I know it'll look absolutely terrible at the end. Now part of me thinks "it doesn't matter, just finish it and it's good practice. You can always set fire to it." but at the same time I really want to start something else, except I don't know what. And I've not much timber lying around.

Anyway - I need some motivation!!!
 

Rorton

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I think if you have something that you feel is not going to look up to the standard you want to achieve , then id move onto something else - maybe you can clean up the timber so its ready to do something else with and not just get thrown away. Perhaps if it was a box, you can cut off the bits your not happy with, and make a smaller box?

Sometimes I get the same way, and usually just leave it for a while, do something else, potter in the garage and then when you feel like doing something again, off you go.
 

Spectric

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Hi

Sit down and rethink what went wrong and look at a way forward that could achieve the desired results but using a different approach. I think we all have good days and then days where nothing seems to go to plan, I cettainly do.
 

Ollie78

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Perspective is key.
I struggle with never being satisfied with my work because I know it is not perfect. I know I could do better.
However other people do not agree with me and are very happy with the results. I have a couple of people I can ask for a sanity check.
I suspect it is not as bad as you think it is.

Nothing wrong with having more than one project on the go at once ( I don`t count them ) , chuck it on a shelf, make something else and finish it later.
A change is as good as a rest.

A maker at celebration of craftsmanship and design told me every piece there had a mistake, but only known to its creator. No one else would notice.

Ollie
 
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Peri

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I always hit my addiction - YouTube

I have about 100 carpentry channels, if I cant find a specific project that sparks an interest, I can usually find a cool jig or a device that I think will, at some point, make my life easier.......... once I've made a cool new piece of kit, I generally want to make something else that uses it.

Case in point, I saw someone make a kumiko precision thicknessing jig. I made the jig....... then the 3 blocks for the angles ...... possibly, maybe, wont be long before I actually do some. :)

EDIT - If woodworking is a hobby for your own enjoyment, there shouldn't be any part of it you 'dread with a passion'! I'm useless at dovetails, so I don't do them. My boxes get splined and mitred corners - I built a jig (again, from YT) that lets me plane perfect 45 degree mitres!
 
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thetyreman

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mistakes are an inevitable part of all growth, it's how you deal with them that matters, just my opinion but you're better off making 100 boxes that are not very good that one 'perfect' one because of the gained experience, I can guarantee you that by the third of fourth box you will see big improvements, it also definitely helps to use some really nice quality woods, that is one of the most important things I have learnt, avoid rubbish wood and sharpen as soon as the first signs of any a dull blade, this can only be learnt through hands on experience, an intuition thing, hope that helps.
 

Trevanion

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just my opinion but you're better off making 100 boxes that are not very good than one 'perfect' one because of the gained experience
"I fear not the man who has made 10,000 different boxes once, but I fear the man who had made one box 10,000 times" - Spruce Tree
 

Boxer

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I met a good artist once who had an impressive portfolio of paintings and drawings. We had an interesting chat about ways of working.
His approach to motivation and creativity was simple and very successful .... If you aren't feeling it then wait until you are.
He was a middle-aged guy and relied on his art for a living, but he had realised over time that you get better results in the long run if you go with your energy rather than trying to fight it.

It's a lesson that has stayed with me and served me well. So my advice is if you are currently feeling motivated to do one thing more than another then use that drive to do the thing you are into at the moment. As long as it meets your overall goals then it's fine. I'm sure things will balance out and over time you will be successful in getting your degree, developing your woodwork skills and finishing good projects. So don't sweat it.
 

Blackswanwood

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I would crack on with the box - it’s all part of the learning process. In many cases I think we magnify woodworking mistakes in our own minds. Even if you just keep the box on a shelf it will serve as a reminder how you have improved when you do the next one.

A tip I picked up from a professional cabinetmaker is to write down what you think the practical mistakes made were and refer back to it next time you are doing the same task. It’s too easy to think in the moment “next time I need to do x and y” and then forget when you next do it. It has helped me to not repeat too many mistakes ... unfortunately I keep finding new ones.
 

SteL

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Agh, shiny object syndrome! I too am afflicted and have never found anything that works 100% for me. The closer I get to finishing something the more attractive other ideas become and the harder it becomes to finish. I usually move on and don't ever go back to the original thing because it's difficult to pick something back up again. You'll find this in all other areas too, not just woodwork. I'm coming to the end of my first woodworking project at the moment and I'm having to force myself to not leave it almost finished.
 

Droogs

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If you keep starting new projects then, basically, every day is 1st day at school and you will Never learn anything. complete what you are doing and examine where you went wrong and learn from it.

Look at the error and say
Why is it like that ,
What did I do that made the tool do that,
When and Where in the process did I start to go wrong
How do I correct that

Then try again
 

Phil Pascoe

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I found that I get the jobs I dislike done better when my time is limited. If I've only got half an hour or an hour and have a good reason to stop then, I deliberately do something I don't enjoy. It leaves longer periods free for more enjoyable things.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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I need some motivation!!!

Bill, what you need is confidence. This comes when you have a proper plan: break down the steps to really tiny ones. To get a perspective here, watch a couple of videos to help visualise each step. Once you have done this, you will be ready.

For through dovetails: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Furniture/ThroughDovetails3.html

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Nigel Burden

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I find that weather and season affects my motivation.

My shed is unheated and has no electricity. The garage is too full of stuff from the loft to allow enough room to work, and I absolutely HATE winter. I agree with the comment made by Phil above though. I usually do things that I don't want to do first and get them out off the way. If something's not going well, I put it down and go back to it before I lose my temper and completely ruin it.

Nigel.
 

DBT85

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I think it's not uncommon to have things that need doing that you're not in the mood for. Just find something you can do that you want to do, enjoy that but make sure you go back and finish what you started. Otherwise it was just a waste of time.

What you think looks like a crapoy box with loose joints someone else will probably appreciate that it's hand made and not care or even notice that it's dovetailed, let alone badly.

I've literally never made a box or cut a dovetail so you're better than me at both things.
 

Jelly

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However I've had to start university work again, and the concept of doing everything at home has made me feel a bit lethargic as I sit thinking "I'm meant to be working on my assignments" whereas in fact I am ahead of where I need to be by a fair way.
I can empathise with this, I did my Masters via Distance Learning and studying at home, after work slowly sapped any motivation I had for just about anything including the uni work, so I'd end up sat staring a screen unable to move forwards but compelled not to stop trying.

However my partner would semi-regularly come in, tell me I was clearly not accomplishing anything and suggest that I should do something more hands-on to get the "accomplished something" buzz in my brain, and get back on track (She has a knack for identifying small things that need doing anyway, which are a gateway to me being more motivated, which helps).

It's actually stuck with me as a technique for maintaining motivation whilst home-working, and I'll often do a little job in the shed for 30-40 mins over my lunch-hour if i'm struggling for motivation with my work; I was pleasantly surprised to learn that two of my colleagues both do the same (one was building a deck, and the other re-building a lister gas-engine) and find it helps too.



I'm halfway through making a box, which has dovetails, which I dread with a passion. I have also made a massive pig's ear of virtually every piece of wood that's meant to make the damned thing so I know it'll look absolutely terrible at the end. Now part of me thinks "it doesn't matter, just finish it and it's good practice."
This is a bit of a bigger mental block, but doesn't need to be.

When I started out as a researcher some years ago, I would beat myself up if every experiment I ran didn't go perfectly, and a lot of them didn't. So one day I meet with my supervisor to discuss this and after listening for a bit he shoves a pack of his dubious Russian cigarettes in my direction, and comes out with:

[the following is best read in a strong Ukrainian accent for full effect]​
"Eto Pizdetz!
What are you talking? You're one of best students I have since moving here.
Give choice, You only ever work on hard problem! Naturally you have bigger struggle than anyone else in lab, but you fix for yourself and always learn from mistake... That's better than post-doc is!
Now. Smoke, Coffee and when your mind adjust to what you hear now, we talk about how you write this up."

That completely changed my mindset about most things going forwards.

I stopped striving to always achieve perfection in what I was doing in that moment, and instead became determined to ensure that I squeezed every last drop of possible learning from each challenge, each mistake and every failure.

Ironically I approach "perfection" much more often now that I don't care about achieving perfection, but am inescapably driven to ensure I'm learning from everything I do.


So going back to your box...

Yeah, it might not turn out like you'd like, and yeah, it sucks when that happens.​

But why are you making a box at all?
Given you can buy them so cheaply from [insert retailer of choice] it can't be just to have one.​

So I'm going to guess that its for the pleasure of making things, and to get better at making things, so you can make more things, which give you fresh challenge, so you can continue to enjoy that pleasure of making things without getting bored...​

In that case, each of the things that you feel went wrong are a thing to learn from (which you may have to remind yourself is a Good Thing™), and a concrete reminder that you've taken another step towards being better than you've ever been before at that skill (GO YOU!).

Compare the first dovetail you cut on the box so far, to the last, and I suspect you'll be able to pick out things that have improved significantly, and maybe areas where you feel like you got a bit less good (because you were tired, or focusing on getting something else right, etc.) Build another box and compare it to the first one, and you'll likely be able to do the same again, and so on...​

I'm horrified by examples of some of the really early woodwork I did, but in hindsight a lot of it is also significantly better than I thought it was at the time.
 

billw

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Some great replies there, thanks. Just reading the various views on things has made me actually want to go and do those bloody dovetails!

Also I will definitely be making boxes to my own design after this one that has mitres all round!
 

Blister

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I have on several occasions looked on line for tins of enthusiasm and elbow grease
To date not found any
 
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