I think it works like this.
Sometimes when I'm knitting in public, people will stop and say something like, "I wish I could do that, but I'd never have the patience." My standard response to this is, "a stitch only takes about .75 seconds to create — how much patience do you need?"
It's all about mindset. Sure, an average adult sweater has about 40,000 stitches in it, but if your satisfaction is at the stitch level, that means you just get a kick every .75 seconds about 40,000 times before you have to think about making something new. Talk about cheap thrills, right?
There's a another payoff level, though, and it's when you finish something. That kick can vary, depending on how difficult the execution was, how physically big the item is (very tiny and very large items have the biggest kicks), how desperately you need to finish the damn thing, and how valued it will be by the intended recipient.
A couple of Sundays ago I made this floor cushion:
About a week after that I made this necklace and earring set:
Now, when I'm supposed to be working on my novel, I'm writing this blog. The blog's a nice quick hit of satisfaction — the template will make it look pretty on the web, I put two nice colourful photos in it, and I got to write something and call it done.
But it's a one-kick wonder. Once it's done, I don't get anything else out of it.
The novel, on the other hand, is sitting just shy of 20,000 words. I know by the time I finish rewrite #2 it will be real, actual novel-length. That's the plan, and although I still think it's a good plan, recently I've been frustrated because I want that "it's done! it's ready to pitch!" kick. But it's not ready for that yet, not nearly. I don't mean in a perfectionist-writer way. I mean in a gotta-finish-the-damn-story way.
In the meantime, I have to remind myself that I can get 500 decent words' worth of story-telling out in about half an hour. 500 decent words in 30 minutes is 16.67 words a minute. How much patience do I need?