I’ve learned that I have a minimal (or maximal?) ratio of monotony to creativity to maintain in order to not go absolutely stir-crazy.
It’s about 4:1.
For every 4 hours I churn on something that’s difficult to make interesting (office work, house cleaning, troubleshooting a tedious problem), I need about an hour of creativity. And not an hour of editing a creative work, but creating: sketching out a site design; penciling out ideas for an app, story, or novel; throwing down code/tests for a new or in-progress project; writing out a scene in my novel; knitting/crocheting; blogging; etc.
But 4:1 is pretty much my bare minimum for getting through the day with a smile. Most days, I prefer that ratio nearly flipped (1:3 or so).
That said, I don’t mind monotonous work when I can find a good rhythm. I can be all in-the-moment and such.
But I can’t be happily brain-quiet forever. Not day in and day out.
I haven’t been a heavy crocheter since shortly after I left teaching in early 2008, but way back then, I started a blanket. It’s a gorgeous design, and I picked the colors based on the decor of a friend’s house. I don’t keep up with him anymore–and he’s married, so no telling what his house is like these days–but I still love the blanket. It’s wide: wider than 6 feet, which makes doing each row a painfully long endeavor.
My favorite times to crochet (and knit, whatever) are when I’m watching television or on long car rides. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I’ve been wrapped up in a lot of computer-based volunteer work, which means my television time is spent on my netbook. In cleaning out my former office for our upcoming roommate, though, I tidied up all my yarn. I found the 10 skeins of midnight blue yarn for the cable-knit afghan I was going to make my father (I didn’t end up with very usable cable needles, alas), the little purple baby blanket that only needs about 5 repeats of its purl/knit checkered pattern to be done, and all my thick wool squares (presumably to be quilted into an afghan).