A bookbinder’s confession

Blue Roof Designs studio

You’re messy, but I miss you

I recently had an interesting conversation with Mimi, my CSA farmer.

I went to the farm for some pick-your-own time and had just finished collecting an array of red flowers. I asked Mimi if she ever picked her own flowers and she replied that she rarely did. She said that whenever she looked at the flowers, all she saw was work.

I realized that I’m having the same problem with my studio. Whenever I look in there, all I see is the work that has to be done.

It starts out innocently enough.

You’re very busy. You don’t have time to get into your studio to make anything. Then you realize that you haven’t been in your studio for a while. You get anxious. You blame yourself. So you don’t go in. Even though you know that you’ll enjoy yourself once you start working, you realize that feeling bad before going in is enough to keep you out.

Hello. My name is Elissa Campbell and I’m avoiding my studio.

21 Responses to “A bookbinder’s confession”

By Rhonda - 27 August 2009 Reply

Sounds familiar 🙂

By Susan - 27 August 2009 Reply

Oh I have been there many times

By Liesan - 27 August 2009 Reply

My name is Liesan and as I am unable to avoid my studio (it’s the same place where I do everything but sleep, cook and watch tv) I just stack my tables with boxes, supplies and radom pieces of paper untill I have no room to do anything… I think that amounts to the same thing though

By Shannon - 27 August 2009 Reply

Oh yes, very familiar. I always wanted an extra room for a studio. Now I have it, and a multitude of supplies, and now, no matter how neat or messy the studio is I never know where to start and it all just feels like stuff I should be doing instead of stuff I want to be doing, and then I feel guilty.

Sometimes it helps if I make a list of everything I need and want to get done, and break it down into less overwhelming chunks that I can take on in a short period of time. Then I get to mark the item off the list when it’s done. Of course, that only works if you have the kind of personality that’s easily motivated by checking things off a list. 🙂

By elissa - 30 August 2009 Reply

Shannon –

I do really well with lists – it’s very satisfying to cross things off. I think I need to follow your advice on breaking things down into smaller chunks because the items on my list seem really huge and insurmountable at times.


By Janeen - 27 August 2009 Reply

Oh, I am going through the same avoidance right now. I play around with ideas when I’m at my day job, but can’t seem to find the energy to get started in the studio, even on the week-ends. And as you said “you’ll enjoy yourself once you start working”. So, how do you overcome the avoidance? It would be great to hear some ideas.

By elissa - 30 August 2009 Reply

Janeen –

I’ve been trying to overcome my avoidance for so long…I’m now avoiding my avoidance. Oy.


By Janeen - 30 August 2009 Reply

After pondering on this situation, I have come to the conclusion that it may be a natural part of the creative process. Like breathing,: a time for breathing in and a time for breathing out. This thought helps me to embrace the whole process and not resist ‘” the breathing in time”. It helps me to find the peace to know that the “breathing out” time will come and when it does the work will flow more easily.

By elissa - 4 September 2009 Reply

Janeen –

Your comments are comforting – thank you. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that I’m not a robot. 🙂


By Alexia - 27 August 2009 Reply

Oh my. sounds very familiar…

By Sara - 27 August 2009 Reply

Oh yes… and the worst thing is, when you’ve summoned up the energy to do something creative in your studio space you realise the first task is tidying up the mess you made in order to be able to get to the equipment/beautiful supplies/half-finished hell… and once you’ve done that and have a lovely bare piece of table on which to work…. you’ve run out of time!

By elissa - 30 August 2009 Reply

Sara –

I’m so with you on the cleaning…it’s the one thing that is guaranteed to get in my way every time. I probably should just schedule in cleanup time at the end of the day so that I always enter my studio in a clean state…


By Esther - 27 August 2009 Reply

Ditto on the mess clean-up first! I feel like I am always cleaning.

By Camolai - 28 August 2009 Reply

Story of my life.

By billiescraftroom - 28 August 2009 Reply

My studio was taken over with storage boxes from DHs office while a decoration project was going to happen….8 months ago 🙁

When I go in there, I just get grumpy about how little space I have, and what I ‘could’ do if I had my space back 🙁

I’m on a promise that I ‘should’ have it back by christmas…. but the project as a whole is 18 months old….time will tell!

I do spend more time tidying and re arranging than on projects though hmmm.

One day I will reclaim my space and have a party to celebrate the fact 🙂


Billie 🙂

By elissa - 30 August 2009 Reply

Billie –

So how are you organizing your “Take Back the Studio” effort? I’m curious…


By billiescraftroom - 30 August 2009 Reply

I have tried all of the following without sucess


and of course the standby

Sulking with and without tears!

All without sucess 🙁 I am on a promise that the project will begin in September 🙂 🙂 and will take as long as it takes 🙁

Time will tell. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

In the mean time, I’ll mumble, grumble and make do!! As you do!


Billie 🙂

By elissa - 4 September 2009 Reply

Billie –

I wish you the best of luck during your [possibly] hostile takeover. 🙂


By elissa - 30 August 2009 Reply

Rhonda, Susan, Liesan, Alexia, Camolai, and Esther –

It’s not that I wish this kind of frustration on anyone else, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Thanks for the support. 🙂


By Carol - 5 September 2009 Reply

I somehow missed this post. The only time I can keep my work bench tidy is when I’m working for someone else. The moment it’s just me I start procrastinating and doing nothing at all. I let everything pile up and then it’s too awful to deal with.
Next week the materials will arrive for the books that must be in the shop well before Christmas so I know that there’ll be a flurry of clearing and cleaning and all the stuff that’s on the bench will be moved to teetering heaps somewhere else in the room.
But I do make lists and I have some success with them, as long as I can find the notebook where I’ve written it all down. It’s kind of reassuring to know that others have the same problem, so thanks to all those who added their comments. I feel better now.

By elissa - 12 September 2009 Reply

Carol –

I’m glad this post has been helpful to you – it’s been helpful to me too. Hearing about others’ experiences makes me feel less alone and my world gets a bit more snugly in the process.


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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