I have discovered the love of free motion quilting over the last couple of years. And once I got the hang of it I have found it fun, additive and amazingly therapeutic! But I do liken it to going from learning print writing to cursive, and you will not be neat, or consistent without practice! practice! practice! One of the best bits of advise I can give is to doodle! .....What?... yep..doodle! It is a very close relative to free motion quilting, and once you can get your mind into that way of thinking, I think you can relax a little. Like doodling, it will wander from one place to the next, with the odd mistake along the way.
When starting a new project I always 'doodle' on paper first to get the feel for what I want to achieve. If your not sure what pattern or design to quilt, look at the fabric for inspiration. For my "birds in the air" quilt, I wasn't sure what to do, (the last 3 quilts have been my standard 'swirly' design, so I looked at the backing fabric which featured butterflies with loops, so basically went with that.
I doodled a similar idea, and once confident with this, it can be translated to fabric.
Use a practice piece first if your still learning, but the main thing is to relax, and not be tough on yourself. Remember you are looking at your quilting in close up detail and you will be by far your hardest critic. Remember to stand back every now and then and ask yourself "if my friend showed me that, what would I say?". I bet the answer is far kinder than what you say to yourself when you look close up!
So far, this is what my quilt is looking like, and I'm pretty happy with it. I am by no means an award winning free motion quilter, and never will be, but what I do is simple and fun, and I enjoy it. AND! it beats trying to 'ditch stitch' around all those half square triangles any day!
Not too much longer I hope!