Having a creative block is the worst. Last year, I found myself in a creative block for a few months and let me tell you, it was no fun. The high of Quiltcon had worn off, winter had come and even though I was still kicking goals – like becoming a Juki ambassador – I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to create so bad, but I just, couldn’t.
As we start out in the 2016, now is the time to kick your creative block’s butt. We all get them. We’ve lost our sewing mojo, have writer’s block and feeling plain old unmotivated to create. It’s not a nice place to be, but rest assured that you are not alone. We’ve all been there. What’s important is that you find a way to get yourself out!
So, what do you do when you find yourself in a rut? I have put together five different ways you can reignite your creative spark and get back to making in 2016.
Take a break
Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to take some time out and refresh. And I am not talking about distractions. That is a completely different kettle of fish. Stop checking your emails and put down your phone. Procrastinating on Candy Crush is not helping you my friend. You do not need to check that hashtag or J-Lo’s Instagram account (guilty as charged). Have a proper little holiday from your project and let it percolate in the background. It will be waiting there for you when you are ready to return to it.
My favourite break activity is to go for a walk. Often when I am out, I find the solution to the problem. I can clear my head and accept the inspiration around me. You can choose what works for you, a hike or a quick stroll around the block. You just need to get away and get your blood pumping. While you are out walking, take the time to connect with your surroundings. Get out of your head and really look around you. Take the inspiration home with you and channel it in to your work.
Sometimes external reasons can be the root cause to your creative block. If there are family troubles, financial stress or illness, please take care of you. Stress is a terrible thing for us physically and emotionally. If you can’t channel it into your creative work, take the pressure off yourself in at least one area.
Learn a new skill
You could learn a new technique in your craft, or a completely new craft all together. Last year, I took a detour from sewing and enrolled in a silver jewellery making class. It was only a few hours long, but it got me making again and I absolutely loved it. It really doesn’t matter what you choose to learn, it’s about investing in yourself.
If you can’t enrol in a local class, why not try an online class? Craftsy have an almost array of classes to choose from, including photography, knitting, crochet as well as sewing and quilting. Try a new technique like paper piecing (try Start Foundation Paper Piecing with Elizabeth Dackson), loosen up with improv quilting (try Jacquie Gering’s Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design) or take a lesson in designing quilts (try Designing Modern Quilts with Weeks Ringle). Becoming a student again might just put you back in the right space for creating again.
Build creative habits
Dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp recommends that you turn your creativity into rituals. In her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Tharp goes on to say ‘there is no ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn’t scare you, doesn’t shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it. To get the creative habit, you need a working environment that’s habit-forming. All preferred working states, no matter how eccentric, have one thing in common: When you enter into them, they compel you to get started.’
Everybody’s habit and trigger will be different. Mine is after the kids go to bed. After I say goodnight to my eldest at 8pm, I am ready to step into my sewing space and begin creating. A friend of mine prefers to sew very early in the morning. She wakes with the sun and sews before anyone in the house is awake. Find what really works for you and go with that.
Socialise with your people
Join a local quilt guild and find your people. I absolutely love my local guild, they constantly inspire and encourage me in so many ways. Maybe your people are in a local guild and maybe they are online. There are many online quilting communities – try the Modern Quilt Guild or one of many Facebook groups on offer.
You can also join in with an online sew-along like Project 48 quilt and connect with likeminded people from all over the world. Someone else can lead you for a while and you can start making again. You never know where it will lead you!
Forget about perfection and just do it!
Perfection sucks. Don’t let the fear of perfection stop you from creating. Dust yourself off and kick that creative block to the curb. Give yourself a deadline and just get it done.