• Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

There has to be a certain level of energy to carry you through a project. You need a good spark to start things off and enough fire to make it through the inevitable difficulties that come along. 

Where do you get this energy to build? Well, there may be secondary motivators – maybe you need to get it built for the money, to fulfill a promise, or you just need the item for its practical use.

At best however, “love and need are one” and sheer creative joy is driving you to build. Maybe it’s the design, and you feel you’re onto to something powerful. Maybe you’re eager for the challenge of a new or refined technique. Maybe the wood itself is so compelling that you can’t wait to build with it. 

In any case, you have a real problem if the fire is not truly there: if you sense the design is only so-so, or the materials are not compelling, and building will be grunt work that you don’t strongly care about. And you lack even secondary motivators. 

Well, in that case, I think it’s best to do something else! 

Make a decision. There’s no point in kidding yourself by further pursuing a project without The Energy. Try a different project. You’ll think of something. It might be better to just buy that bookcase that you were going to build, and instead build a table that you’re excited about. 

I’ve been down this road more times than I care to admit. I’ve found it best to be honest and tough with myself even if that means junking a project in which I’ve already invested considerable hours. Drawings get torn up and wood gets sacrificed. 

If the energy is not in you, it won’t be there in the final piece, and you’ll know it for always. And those who see and use the piece will know it too.

Category: Ideas
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8 Responses

  1. 1

    “The Energy” is an interesting concept. I don’t always approach my hobbies as strictly “hobby”. They can take on a life that equals anything (and, more) I have done professionally. There is no “choice”. It is to be done. And, I do it. On Time. On Budget–maybe. And, as Intended.

    I am retired. What did I do for my summer break? Right now, I am resurfacing my over 300 sf wood deck. I have had nearly thirty years to fuss and stew and design a corrected deck. I procrastinated starting for two years. The work would probably put me into the hospital with various ailments; pick any that could strike a physically defunct old young man on twice as many prescriptions as days in a week.

    The decking wood was only $500. The “stuff” to put it onto and ready the existing joists is nearly $1000.

    So far, I’m pretty sure I have disconnected a finger tendon; there’s a thick wad above the second joint. I can actually get up to my feet from knees by pushing off the deck, but the longtime delay of a new shoulder will not be put-off now. The wife can carry the 20-pound turkey, if we ever need one. I will be done exceeding the limits of Titanium this Fall.

    Some days there is no energy, but I don the knee pads and do one of at least ten tasks that move the inevitable project progression along.

  2. 2

    Thanks for sharing your story, Bruce. I’d say you do indeed have The Energy. After all, how else could you proceed despite all the barriers before you. And . . . you’ve got courage! Good luck and best wishes to you.


  3. 3

    I find as a hobiest with a family and many distractions (in the form of both responsibilities and competing hobbies) that for me what seems to really matter is not the Energy but the Momentum. Maybe this is because I always have the Energy and it’s a problem of direction and focus. If the project is moving along and I’m making progress, even just a tiny bit, at regular intervals, then it keeps moving. But if I run into some kind of roadblock, or complication, then it can stall the project for months and I do other things instead. Complications are things like I made a mistake I have to fix, or I need more wood, or I’m not quite sure what the next step is, or how to do the next thing. Then I lose Momentum and I find I’m doing other things. Getting started again is much more difficult then continuing an existing forward motion.

    Note that I’m not in a hurry, and I’m not angry at myself or anything like that. It’s OK that I have focused on other activities because I value them as well. But I would like to finish the current woodworking project someday.

  4. 4

    Oh so true, Adrian. I think any amateur craftsperson can relate to what you are saying. Thanks.

  5. 5

    Just stumbled onto your site and wanted to let you know that your stuff lifted my spirit…at a perfect moment…thanks for doing good work…Michael

  6. 6

    Glad it helps. Thanks for reading.

  7. 7
    Eric Commarato 

    Don’t confuse lack of energy with being lazy…which is in part some of my problem! I want to do a project, but after getting up at 4:00 to go the gym in the morning, dragging through work, and getting home to do the normal home things after 5:00, there isn’t much gas in this 59 year old tank! I love my shop and my hundreds of tools I’ve collected over the years, but with only about an hour left in the day to spend with my wife of 34 years, I’m finding it hard to fire up the table saw, or dust off the hand plane, but believe me, I’m trying. Thank you for posting Michael.

  8. 8

    Oh I hear ya, Eric. And that’s why it’s all the more important that the projects we work on are compelling and meaningful.
    Good luck and stay with it.