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Thread: Falling Behind? Getting Scared?

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    Jean's Avatar
    Jean is offline Artist in the Lucy Ricardo tradition
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    Falling Behind? Getting Scared?

    It is so easy to do - lots of good trades, swaps, round robins, journals, moleys, etc etc etc. At first the dates seem rather far off, so you're golden...and then life reasserts itself....and then you're feeling pressured....and the dates are looming....and you're not ready to mail....or you're late!

    Help is at hand!

    First: what NOT to do:
    -quit visiting the site
    -quit posting
    -keep mum about your situation from shame
    -browbeat yourself
    -get artistically blocked
    -make fast cards, pages, etc so you'll have **something** to send in

    Presenting... the AFA-Approved Approach to Overcommitted Artists: Face it, Fix it, Move on!

    Most important: Stop visiting Open Swaps, ATC Trades, etc. Sign up for NOTHING new.

    -Now, ruthlessly drop out of a few swaps to ease the load. Which ones? Those with the soonest due dates. Swap hosts hate waiting for no-shows. Let them know you have to withdraw.
    -Next, be open about what happened. Life gets in everybody's way, and fab themes have tempted many of us into signing up for more than we can do comfortably.
    -Get to work. Order of priority:
    1. Mail out any completed work -or unbegun work - that someone is waiting for - swap returns, books, pages, whatever. If you cannot work in the moley or whatever b/c life is that hectic, be upfront about it and send it on to the next artist. Make arrangements either to catch up or complete your obligation a bit later.
    2. Late works of art like PAT, CJ, Moleys...anything someone is waiting on. If you don't think you can do a good job on it, suck it up and let the person know. You can return what they sent you, or you can make arrangements. Most folks are fine with making arrangements -- **if you are upfront about it and communicate regularly.** Don't just send 'anything.' You will not make friends that way.
    3. Swaps/trades with soonest due-dates.

    We've been there - I've been there. Sometimes it's just life, sometimes it's our fault, sometimes it's a dear family member who doesn't want to go to the PO for you. Sometimes it's illness in ourselves or the family, or maybe a sad loss, or maybe the loss of motivation. We *all* get there, so we all understand.

    Here's what nobody understands or excuses:
    -sweeping it under the rug
    -lying about it
    -being nasty and hurtful from the stress
    -going MIA with other people's work in your possession.

    We've had a lot of new members lately - welcome, y'all! - and so I thought maybe this was a good time to let everyone know that there is very little that can't be remedied among friends.

    So if you get in ATC-hell, remember: Face it, fix it, move on.

    ETA: Good advice in the posts below, too!
    Last edited by Jean; 09-22-2009 at 02:42 PM.
    One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised - Chinua Achebe
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    This is GREAT advice!

    Most hosts will certainly prefer you to drop out rather than have to wait around to see if you're sending cards or not, I know I do. If you have trouble with a personal trade the key is communication. I've waited two months for a personal trade because my partner ran into some problems in RL, but they kept me updated on their situation and I ended up receiving a very lovely card from once it all settled down.

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    bluelotusflower's Avatar
    bluelotusflower is offline a thousand petals, a thousand paths
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    Well written, Jean! Great advice for those of us who are tempted to add one more swap! I over-booked in May. I thought I would have lots of time as I was newly retired. HA! Then I found out what all retirees have said: they have no time at all! So I put restrictions on myself (as you suggested above) until I caught up. I didn't pull out of any swaps, but I stopped looking at new swaps and the gallery. Both were far too tempting! I followed an artist friend's advice as well. Don't sign up for any swap unless 1) you have an idea for EVERY card required, or 2) you have made the cards first, or 3) you begin to work on the swap soon after you sign up. Sometimes a theme sounds great months before when you first sign on, but the enthusiasm wanes as the deadline approaches. It is harder to make cards when the excitement is gone.

    One other thing I found helpful. I keep a list of commitments on my notepad in CP. On it I note the swap/trade, number of cards required (plus a hostess card) and due date. The list is arranged in chronological order. I consult it first before I sign up for anything or agree to a trade. It helps me see clearly whether I really do have time to add something else.

    If you have no ideas and life overwhelms you, it is better to pull out of a swap immediately rather than wait until the withdrawal date. It isn't fair to those on the waiting list and to the hostess who must scramble to fill your spot at the last minute.

    Again, Jean, thanks for writing this important piece. Love the line: "face it, fix it, move on!" Great advice not only for A4A but for Life (with a capital "L") itself!

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    Great advice, Jean! I´ve found myself in the situation more than once - swaps are too irresistable, trades hard to say no too... When I find myself overwhelmed, I usually write a list, and check as I finish things. I love to see the list filled with check´s! Now I don´t have the time to do any swaps or trades, so I stay far away from open swaps and the gallery...

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    This is keen!

    I'd love for you to add 'PAT' swap cards as one top priority, as they hold up your entire group, plus the host....and create a big organizational postal mess if you are late with these.
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    this is wonderful advice Jean - communication is the key
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    Such helpful advice Jean. Thanks for putting the time in to write this. I'm sure the advice will help many people over time.

    Something I started to do once my health started to deteriorate was to make the cards first and then sign up. As I never know when i'll be able to do art it's a much better solution for me. . I subscribe to the swaps of anything that interest me and then work through the list starting with the swaps I like best. Occasionally i've missed the sign up deadline or the swap is full by the time i've finished the cards but it's not the end of the world as I can put them in my gallery for personal trades.

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    Jean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OriginalYouth View Post
    This is keen!

    I'd love for you to add 'PAT' swap cards as one top priority, as they hold up your entire group, plus the host....and create a big organizational postal mess if you are late with these.
    PAT was the first thing on the to-do list - right after mailing out stuff that could go. It's important - all those potential negative iTraders! - so I had it first after mailouts.
    One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised - Chinua Achebe
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    Jean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adifferentstory View Post
    Such helpful advice Jean. Thanks for putting the time in to write this. I'm sure the advice will help many people over time.

    Something I started to do once my health started to deteriorate was to make the cards first and then sign up. As I never know when i'll be able to do art it's a much better solution for me. . I subscribe to the swaps of anything that interest me and then work through the list starting with the swaps I like best. Occasionally i've missed the sign up deadline or the swap is full by the time i've finished the cards but it's not the end of the world as I can put them in my gallery for personal trades.
    I've gotten into filled swaps by having the cards ready for immediate mailing. A lot of hosts will open their swaps for a sure swapper in anticipation of withdrawals down the line.
    One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised - Chinua Achebe
    Etsy Watercolor PIF thread My Website

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    Thanks for posting this Jean! I wish I would have known all this before I got myself into a few jams but I think it's one of those things you just have to have happen once or twice before you figure it out!
    ~You will never have a completely bad day if you show kindness at least once.~

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    This is all fantastic advice but I would also add: look at where you have to send your cards - local or international. I am always international and so I have all my swaps listed on my calendar MINUS 2 WEEKS to allow for mailing time.
    I have been in a few swaps lately where people have suddenly realised that the host is not local and have had to pull out as they didn't have mailing time - very frustrating for all concerned.

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    bluelotusflower's Avatar
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    look at where you have to send your cards - local or international. I am always international and so I have all my swaps listed on my calendar MINUS 2 WEEKS to allow for mailing time.
    Great advice, Donnacr!

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    Great advice Jean, as I have been guilty of over-extending myself as well! Now I sign up for no more than 3, and try to start working on them immediately!
    I have internet again!

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    This is good info, especially since I am a newbie. Thanks for the sound info on how to handle things if one does get into a jam!

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    This is good info, especially since I am a newbie. Thanks for the sound info on how to handle things if one does get into a jam!

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    Another tip, make you you have the resources to deliver on all the commitments you make. I signed up for quite a few things and promised several people cards.. and I ran out of stamps. The due dates for the swaps are quite a ways off and I will have stamps by then, but some personal trades might take a bit longer than I would have liked. So yeah.. keep track of your resources.

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    Great advice Jean - I hope that a lot of newbies read it. It's so easy to be an excited new members signing up for lots of swaps - but overextending yourself and signing up for so many things usually ends up a scary mess - chances are the player will end up feeling overloaded and overwhelmed - then the site becomes more of a chore instead of being the fun and creative place it really is.
    Last edited by ICraft; 10-21-2010 at 05:06 PM.
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    I do fine with the "making the art" part of the trade. But where I get bogged down is in the keeping track of giving Itraders and REPs, and making sure all my cards are received, etc. It is the paperwork (for lack of a better word) that suprisingly adds up to quite a chunk of time. In other words, the "making the art" is only 1/2 the task, the paperwork doubles the time needed to do a trade/swap. Anticipating the paperwork is important to prevent overextending myself.
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    I keep a calender of when cards are due, when I mail cards out and when I receive cards. I also keep notes in type pad in the User CP about what swaps I'm in, who I owe cards etc. I can forget things easy so this is important for me to keep up with. Also, I don't erase PMs with a swap host or a person from a personal trade until the swap is complete and everyone has their cards.

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    As soon as I receive my returns from a swap I put a little note in the thread and immediately give rep and iTrader. It takes little longer than opening the envelope and I then have a clear conscience when I file my beautiful cards.
    I used to stress about chasing where my own cards ended up but now I look at every rep that I receive as a bonus - I sent my cards away and it is a nice surprise when the thank you comes.
    I have a new address from the end of June - ROBINA.
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