When You Hate Your Puppet Project

“I Hate My Puppet Project!”

How to Rekindle Enthusiasm and Complete a Project

Your coffee cup hits the table.  The project is nearby, but the zest for building puppets is gone.  Sucked dry by deadlines.  The coffee looks more interesting.

Ever happen to you?  It happens to everyone.  I have a little sticker on my Mac to remind me that this is normal.

My family members have pointed out that my math doesn’t equal 100% in this sticker, but you get the idea here.

Sometimes we work when the inspiration and enthusiasm have languished.  “Doing the work” is sometimes an established habit of showing up despite the dryness.  We chose to follow through and work because of a commitment to a client or ourselves. 

Is there anything that can help here?  Yes, there is.

Here are a few things I do:

Remember WHY you started the project.  Sometimes this helps.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  If you chose the project because it was initially exciting, recall what that was.  Are you still excited about this same aspect?  Could you reignite that same initial interest? For me, the initial interest is often the opportunity to try something new.  Perhaps the puppet design or character is different from what I’ve built before.  If that’s the case I remind myself to lean into curiousity and find new ways to do things that make my work better.  

Sometimes my client’s vision inspires me.  Perhaps they are doing something that helps people or a segment of people I also care about.  I did this with my last project.  My client was developing a program that would help children who were hurting.  That aligned with my own desires and values, so when I got discouraged with the build, I would imagine a hurting child.  I would feel the emotions of compassion in my heart, and use that as fuel to keep going. Imagine who your puppet may bless.  Build it for them.

Block out time to complete the steps and give yourself a distinct goal for the day.  I combine this with setting up a pleasant work environment.  This means music, coffee or a hot beverage (during cold months), and a clean working space.  My absolute favorite thing to listen to zone out while sewing is children’s fantasy fiction books in an audio format.  I can sew for hours at a time if the book is engaging.  Anything visual competes with attention, so it has to be an audiobook. Podcasts work too.  What kind of audio would help you zone and do the work?  What need to shift in your work space to make it comfortable and easy to work on the next steps of your build?  

Yes, I designed a vinyl for my toliet that would encourage me during breaks:)

Plan for at least 30 minutes.  Commit to 10 minutes.  Use a time block in your calendar along with the right environment to get the project going again.  Sometimes I tell myself that I only have to work on the project ten minutes.  Almost always, that ten minutes can stretch long.  I can go for hours once I start. I just needed to get the initial momentum going.

Reward yourself along the way.  With a dry project, you can reward yourself with another adventure that parallels the current project.  This means working on the dry project for a committed amount of time and then switching to another more exciting project after you put in the time on the boring one, or rewarding yourself with an inspiring treat like a movie once you hit a major landmark in the process.  Animated or fantasy-themed movies are inspiring for me.  What would make a great reward for you?

Sharing your work with others can also make the process more rewarding.  Post your progress on social media, or connect with fellow puppet builders to share your process or progress.  I sometimes text a puppet-building friend on what I’m working on.

The same friends you share your work with can also be your accountability partners.  Let them know when you plan to reach milestones or finish the project and social pressure can push you forward.

Use visual reminders of the next steps and keep your workspace clear of clutter.  This one helps if you feel overwhelm or confusion by gazing upon your messy work area.  I use project bins to contain materials.  I put away tools not in use.  There is a fun video by Tom Sachs that describes the rules for his shared workshop space.  One rule is “Always Be Knolling”.  It pretty much means to pick up as you go, and keep things tidy.  Here is the video to inspire you.


Yeah, the alignment step is kinda weird, but try it a few times.  It might be more satisfying than you initially imagined.

If you liked that video or intrigued by seeing other people’s creative spaces you can see Tom’s full “Working to Code” video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49p1JVLHUos  I like seeing workspaces myself.

On that note…

Seeing other people’s work in person or attending a workshop can also be inspiring and put a new hop in your step.  Yeah, you may need to finish that boring project, but now you want to get it done so you can move forward with your next inspiration.

Have any more ideas?  I’d love to hear.  Comment your ideas below.

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