View Full Version : Must be in the doldrums---

brian Rupnow
10-08-2008, 07:24 PM
Maybe its just the fall, which is always a somewhat "iffy" time for me, but I can't seem to find much motivation for machining or building anything right now. I am reasonably busy with my day job, (and right now its on a kind of day to day basis---this economic scmozzle thats going on is holding back new machine development.) I walk into my little machine shop once or twice a day, look around, then walk out again. I lay awake at night (fall is insomnia time for me) and try to think up "what will I build next", and I don't get any answers. Two weeks ago I reworked my bandsaw to cut mild steel. Last weekend I polished the beam engine and finally finished all the "fiddly bits'---pivot shafts, acorn nuts, etcetera. Now I guess that I will have to wait untill some great notion takes hold of me to create something. As soon as one of my customers cleans up a couple of invoices I think I will purchase a boring head for my mill----Maybe that will spur some creativity.

10-08-2008, 08:58 PM
I find that a falling barometric pressure takes some of the wind out of my sails. Not a big deal, but to be able to put a cause to it sometimes helps me out of the funk. I'm learning to not beat myself up so much when I feel less than inspired. I often do a breathing excercise when I thnk to- take a deep breath, let it out. Take another, a little slower, hold it a bit longer- do again a little more slowly and easily. Then just go on about whatever you're doing. I try to make sure I'm drinking enough water also. Water is brain food (amongst other things of course).

Inspiration is spontaneous, and you need to have some clear space in your mind. At times I try to charge the deeper regions of my being with a task, then trust that it will resurface when something worth considering has come out of it. If my brow curls, I'm working it too hard. Just a mental excercise, a thought excercise. It could be a problem I'm trying to solve, or often it's a how should I make this---. I try to visualize a clear workbench in my mind, and associate the task with that. Many many times that has come full circle, and sort of pops into mind when it's ready. It doesn't work by trying to make it happen, it just comes as inspiration- at times it is pretty much like a light bulb coming on.

I have dead spots, months sometimes. Sometimes I try to imagine that 'funkiness' as a package, then I imagine placing that package on the ground and walking away from it. Just a mental excercise again, sometimes seems to lighten my load.

10-08-2008, 09:14 PM
ive been a little depressed lately too. it seems as though i have "too many" projects on the go and in my mind that i start to feel like i will never complete one. most of the time i start a project, run into a snag, and then move onto the next one while i think about the issues with the first one. so now ive got at least 15 different projects on the go and nowhere near being finished any of them.. some just need small bits, some need major parts or redesigns.

usually forcing myself to go down and clean and organize the shop helps me get motivated to get back into the groove.

10-08-2008, 09:42 PM
Brian, I'd suggest looking outside your shop for inspiration. Relax, hit a few museums, check out the junk/scrap yards, maybe do some reading. You'll wind up making chips in short order.

10-08-2008, 09:46 PM
Yeah i was too so i bought a new Motorcycle Drag Bike to work on this winter in my new shop which is nearing completion. Im starting tio feel better but im still on my first drink Mike

10-08-2008, 09:55 PM
Life sucks then you die.
As a child I always wanted to fly airplanes. Now I fly airplanes 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. My childhood dream has turned into a reality, that has turned into a.... Job...
So some one who has the best view in the working world with exception to Astronauts, let me tell you that it's all in your head. If your not happy now, you will not be happy later! So either off yourself or change the way you think and be thankful for what you do have.
Now how the hell does this fit in with this thread? Motivate yourself and don't be depresed, and don't think that something around the corner will make you happy again. You have a better chance of getting inoperable cancer in the next few weeks.

10-08-2008, 10:05 PM
Hey Brian.. I totally understand your situation. I think we all kinda get in the rutt.

Sometimes for me it just takes a break out of the shop and leave it for a week or so. Then I start missing it. Yeah, I do miss my shop LOL Ok, so I need help :) But after a lil break I get right back in there and feel all kinds of enjoyment running through my body.

Specially if its been closed up and the smells have gathered and concentrated.. Yeah, love the smells too!!! I step back in after a week away and think Man!!! I love this shop. And go to cleaning abit, get organized and motivated in the process..

Ok..... I love my wife and kids.. And yeah, I love my shop too!!! JR

Peter S
10-10-2008, 04:54 AM
Maybe its just the fall

Hey!, but its spring time down here after a wet winter!! Days are getting longer and warmer, summer can't be far away! Don't mention it, I knew that would cheer up all you distant northerners!! :D :D

10-10-2008, 06:43 AM
Hi all,

I strongly feel that the weather/season affects some of us quite badly. I finished my 3" scale traction engine this summer, the last bits took a mamoth effort and a lot of shop time. Now its finished, i am finding it hard to start the next project. I'll go in the shop, it'll be cold, damp, dull outside, probably raining, pick up some castings or stock, look at it, think about the warm living room with some coffee and a comfy chair, return to the house and end up doing nothing all day! Thats another day wasted.

I find once i get going, i'm ok all day, its the getting going thats hard. Cleaning and servicing the machinery helps as its always nice to get on them once cleaned and oiled, benches tidy, floor swept etc. I need to build some sort of rack for my steel stocks, but cant get the inspiration to start.

Getting in the right frame of mind is the important bit, if i go out there with a positive feeling, i'm usually ok. In the winter/autumn, it's getting that feeling that's the hard part, i can only blame it on the seasons, i think its called "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "S.A.D."

Some of us seem immune to it.


10-10-2008, 08:09 AM
This weather is one of reasons to own a motorcycle, nice time to buzz down that country road or take off through woods. A good time to machine too,
the shop gets too hot in the summer.

Greg Parent
10-10-2008, 08:39 AM
Go to the bush. That always clears my head. Trees and lots of them!

10-10-2008, 09:13 AM
Go to the bush. That always clears my head. Trees and lots of them!

I do find a long stroll along a seafront somewhere helps clear it. We are long overdue for a day out away from it all spent walking etc, nice lunch, no rushing about, good fresh air and a stiff breeze in the face.

Its about an hours drive to our nearest bit of water, i'll have to mention it to SWMBO.


10-10-2008, 09:42 AM
Time for a little project to increase the pleasure of being in the shop ? Maybe move the 'stuff' to the center of the room and paint the walls a warm-white ? Move half of the 'stuff' back to neat storage and toss the half you're never going to use ? Maybe improve the lighting with some of the blue "Reveal" incandescents and/or some fluorescents with color temp > 4000 and CRI > 75 ? Maybe peruse the tool catalogs and improve the liquidity of the economy with a little treat that opens up new project possibilities ?

David Merrill

Weston Bye
10-10-2008, 06:40 PM
I go through the doldrums about four times a year - to coincide with the deadline for articles for my column in Digital Machinist. The process can be summed up by quoting Churchill:

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public."

Fortunately, the articles are much shorter than a book so the phases don't last too long, and I derive great satisfaction from the creative work.

10-11-2008, 09:51 AM
Very true Wes! I do (did) quite a few r/c model aircraft designs/plans/articles for a national magazine for several years and can relate very much to what you said.

I tried to keep 3 or 4 separate articles going on at the same time. When one had me cross-eyed I'd switch to another which renewed the juices of creation.

The whole thing was pure misery a lot of the time followed by a flood of joyous emotion when the mailbox door finally slammed shut on the big yellow envelope. Each time a finished one was mailed, I said to myself: "That's it, no more of this cr@p!" A couple months later, the article would show up in the mag, the check would arrive and one of the unfinished ones wouldn't look quite so bad anymore. This cycle repeated itself until one day a friend called & said: "I'm gonna sell my lathe to get a bigger one; you want it?" I thought "Hey, I could use a little diversion for a couple months" and bought it.

That was July '04 and here I am, no more writer's block! ;)

Frank Ford
10-11-2008, 10:50 AM

I bring my own wind.

Sure, sometimes I go into my home shop and don't seem to feel like doing anything in particular at first. Then I look around a while, and see one of the many notes, photos and drawings I have stuck to cabinets or tools:


I always have at least a dozen things like this stuck up around the shop - tools, modifications and accessories I want to make someday, project inspirations, things like that. Every time I see something posted here that I'd wished I'd thought of, I print it, and post it right at eye level on my tools, where I can't miss it.

Takes only a minute or two to get started making chips again. That's how I came to make this screwdriver:


I had a photo of one sort of like it posted on my wood cutting band saw for quite a while, and on one "slow thinking day" I just went at it. Here's the whole project, if you're interested: