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The "Slump"

I'm about to hit a year that I've been carving wood. I brief little background on me, I was active duty military up until a year ago, when I was discharged on 100% disability. I turned to woodworking, then carving, as an outlet to pour my time and sanity into. Back to present day:

So I've experienced what I can only think of as a slump, for lack of a better description. I have a bunch of unfinished carving projects. Most of them are somewhat large carvings...some are small. I get to a point to where after a couple weeks of working on the same thing, I get distracted by other projects I have sketched out, or wood that I have snagged and hoarded away in the garage.

Long story less long, does anyone else do the same? If you do, what do you do about it? Do you eventually go back to them...let them stare at you in disgust forever...or put everything down until they are complete? Eventually I would like to sell something or take a commission, where I would have that pressure to stay focused, but I don't have that now!


Hi Matthew,

I understand exactly how you feel and have several unfinished personal projects sitting around my shop. The main things that motivates me to finish a carving is external pressure, such as finishing a commission for a client (and getting paid), or a gift for family or friend that they are relying and waiting on. So if you are not carving commissioned pieces, promise your carvings to someone. That external pressure of "keeping people happy" gets me more motivated than any type of personal discipline.

So go back to one of your unfinished projects, show it to a family member or friend and tell them "I'm going to give this to your for Christmas". You have over 2 months to finish it, now get to work! Oh, and don't forget to have fun...


Crap, only 2 months till Christmas?!!

I'll have to start doing that with the family in the future...they always ask for specific projects! Just glad it's not me alone with a bunch of work sitting around.

No, it is certainly not just you.  I have so many projects started and not finished it is silly.  Like Mary says though, you can make yourself a deadline by involving others, which is not a bad idea anyway.  Folks always like to have something that has been made by hand from someone they know.

I usually have a few projects in various stages. Honestly though I stopped working in my shop for long periods of time from the conditions. (Too dimly lit, not enough room to work). Then I took a class in a modern well shop with great lighting and nice workbenches.  (Sjoberg elite) Coming back to my gatage was like being in a cave by comparison. After that I made up my mind to change things and threw out massive amounts of stuff I saved but haven't needed for over a year. The lighting and workbench were the next thing. Also converted the garage door to torsion springs so it doesnt tack anymore or jump off the track. Now i actually enjoy my time in the garage and keep moving towards my vision for it. My goal is to start a project and finish it starting with the ? donut. lol Something will get you motivated again.

This is an old topic, but an important one, so I thought I'd see if others had more thoughts on this. I definitely do it with my woodworking. One thing that seems to contribute is what I often tell myself is not being sure of how to do something. In reality, a lot of time what is happening is that there is a risky step and I'm avoiding taking that risk.

Another thing that seems to contribute for me is that there is a difference between feeling like "I'm working on this, it can still be good" and "Well, this is it. It's done, this is the best I could do" and not being happy with how it turned out. Having early projects kicking around that I can look at to see my progress helps as does trying to focus on just enjoying the process, but in the end I do tend to be too self-critical and expect too much and this slows me down. On the other hand, it pushes me to improve. I built a chair for someone recently and this was a big problem as I saw and knew all of the goobers and warts, none of which the receiver noticed, but I just didn't want it to go out the door.