Triage, Part 1

I suspect I’ve written here before about Triage; I talk about it all the time, walking through the house muttering about “doing Triage today,” and I know I’ve mentioned it in various places; but even if I’ve written about it here, it’s worth talking about again. It is, in fact, vital.


“Triage” comes from the French for “sorting,” and in World War II was adopted to mean sorting wounded soldiers into one of three groups according to the severity of their injuries. But it didn’t start out having a medical meaning, and I use it in the original sense of sorting things according to their quality, from the Old French trier, meaning “to pick or to cull.” (check out the Online Etymology Dictionary, here).


I work on about a dozen projects at a time. When I tell people this, sometimes they go, “Oh, I know; I have ADD/ADHD, too!” But I don’t: it’s not that I have ADD; it’s that I’m absolutely terrified I’ll wake up some morning, get that first cup of coffee, and reach for my stitching only to realize that when I finished the project the day before, I somehow neglected to start something new. You know how it is: in the morning before even *one* cup of coffee is absolutely no time to be planning a project, no matter if it’s painting or stitching or sculpting. Mornings are time to do the mindless rote stuff: stitching, putting in background washes, kneading the clay. I’m actually very, very good about making sure there’s something in The Easy Stage waiting on me every morning, but I still imagine with quiet horror the day this might not be the case. Or–even worse!–the day I find myself stuck on, say, a bus, far from home, and put the finishing touches on something and have nothing else to work on.


Aieeeeeeeee. I am not exaggerating when I say this idea makes me sweat. It’s terrifying, indeed.


So I overcompensate by starting lots and lots of projects. I put together everything I’ll need–the garment, the fabric, the needles, the floss–and put it in one of those extra-large zipper bags. There are rather a lot of these, and usually I try to keep them neatly organized (snort; “neatly” and “organized” being relative terms here) in the sewing room. But every so often I get carried away, coming up with more and more and more ideas, and the resulting pile of possible projects getting taller and messier.

Freeman-Zachery Triage

And that’s when I have to do Triage. On Friday, I’ll share some tips about how you can make this system work for your way-too-many-but-oh-so-necessary stash of future projects.

Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.

Flavor for Mixed MediaYou might also enjoy Flavor for Mixed Media by Mary Beth Shaw.






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