Being creative is stressful sometimes, isn't it? Fun, but definitely stressful when you really want to make something special and unique but it seems like something is holding you back. Shopping and buying patterns and books and fabrics is one thing but actually starting a project can be daunting for some reason.
I started a challenge on my yahoo group to make a little four-patch quilt before December and I really want to participate and make one and yet . . .
I've had a bit of a hard time getting inspired this year because of so much non-quilting stuff going on in my life lately and I'm sure you've all had periods like this too. I'm better now and I've found that a little stress isn't necessarily all bad. Here's what I learned:
Try forcing yourself. I know, I know - this sounds terrible but sometimes the only way to get over a creative slump is to push through it. Find a project that's challenging and then just keep moving forward with it. Working on my Dear Jane blocks helped me see this. I definitely think I got some of my inspiration back because I was challenged into making blocks I wasn't so sure I could make. Stretching ourselves to accomplish something will often lead to incredible results.
Create a deadline (or more than one) for yourself and maybe break it up into small portions. I do this when I'm working on a book and find that if I get past a certain part of the project by a certain time, the rest comes a little more easily and things fall into place. By making my project in small steps and accomplishing my goals one at a time, I feel better and am more willing to go on with it. Working on my daughter's college quilt in segments this past summer taught me that. For me, that was definitely a feel-good accomplishment from all sides.
This reminded me of how good it feels to make something for someone else and to see the pleasure it gives others. If you've already made quilts for everyone you know, and I know some of you have, LOL, get involved in a charity group or a swap that takes you away from yourself, where you are making something that's not just for yourself. Or, get an early start on Christmas gifts.
Go easy on yourself. If you make a mistake, that's all it is, not the end of the world. Not very many can reach the perfection of the "Supermodel" type of quilt - and it's pretty stressful to let that keep you from trying at all. Consider every mistake a lesson.
Have you tried Music? Listening to music can be a motivator for me when I sew and a good path to my creativity. Since my daughter has gone away to school and my son has moved out, there is less chaos in the house and more quiet time and I find myself listening to music more than I did before. Try something with a good, fast beat, and you might be surprised at how much it can motivate you. Sometimes it even motivates me to get out and exercise or take the dog for a walk so that's a bonus!
I also find that soothing music works at different times, like rainy days. Or, here's an idea, tailor the music to the project you’re working on. If you’re working on something that's colorful and bright, feeling energetic from music will point you in the right direction. If you’re doing something more subtle, put on some classical music or something slower paced. Your creativity will flow if your music fits whatever it is you're working on.
Play around with some fabric for a bit. Pretend to organize your scraps. I almost always end up making something when I do this.
Unclutter, clean up a little. There, it needed to be said. Maybe it's just me but when my house is a mess there doesn't seem to be any room for me to be creative. I'm not exactly talking about sewing messes. Sometimes those are good and mean you're in the middle of something creative. Today I noticed something was just WRONG every time I walked into the kitchen. It wasn't too bad, but something was definitely off.
I looked out the kitchen window over the sink and saw that across the street my neighbor was getting her windows cleaned. Then I looked at MY kitchen window and noticed all sorts of water spots and smudges. I sprayed it with Windex and wiped it down and it shined - I could SEE better out the window and silly as that sounds, it made me FEEL better. Then I looked down at the sink and it was a little dull and sloppy (horrors!). Because I had been really busy every morning this week, it had been a long time since I really shined the sink till it sparkled. Every morning I just put the dishes in the dishwasher, swiped it and ran off. So I took out my ZUD, the best product I have found for cleaning my sinks, and spent 3 minutes to shine up that sink. Now I feel really silly saying this, but that made me feel better too. The simple act of shining my sink lifted my spirits and cleared a little clutter in my head that freed me and made room for me to do something creative. Very strange, but what can I say - it worked for me. I even felt like taking another 10 minutes to clean the downstairs bathroom. THAT really made me feel good.
Glad I got that out of the way. I'm telling you, it works every time. Now I feel more like sewing. Some little scrappy four-patch blocks perhaps?