Maybe taking the lead of the man who said, “You should go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t come to yours” on thinking is a mistake, but in one area I think Yogi Berra got it right. He said, “How can you think and hit at the same time.”
How, indeed? If you’re working properly, you have to stop to think. While you’re working, you’re following your hands. Being a mistake prone person, I know that following your hands means that you have to have a well-worn process to follow.
When I’m making something for the first time, I stop a lot. Gradually, I sift out the mistakes and enjoy the surprises (which for me are mistakes that work anyway). A process begins to reveal itself.
I think most of us operate this way. I suppose there are people who have craft or other ideas born in their heads full-blown, but that’s never been the way for me.
Today, you see a piece my son made. It’s a coat and hat rack, carved with a leaf design. I like it because it celebrates the wood. While he was making it, he asked me what he should put between the hooks. His process told me that it should be leaves (maple, walnut and cherry) because those are the woods we use most often. His delicate carving touch brought it alive for me.