Friday, November 4, 2011

Creativity and Stress

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?


19 comments:

Petal49 said...

Great ideas and I intend to start now. Been in a bit of a slump myself. Thank you.

Haley said...

I know what you mean! It's the same for me whether drawing, calligraphy, quilting, crochet or any artsy thing, I've got to get the something that bothers me out of the way.

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

You know Kathleen, I really get more pleasure from making Charity quilts then for other people. I guess maybe I've been stung a time or two when someone kind of looks down on a "homemade" gift. Charity quilts on the other hand, are usually for people who have nothing or have a great need. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

Susan said...

Thanks for the pep talk...just what I needed to get started on a challenge project that is creating way too much of a challenge!

Raewyn said...

Great thoughts thank you. Think I'll just go tidy my scraps...!

Michelle said...

I think for me I have sooo many projects I want to do and want to start that I don't know which one to do so I don't end up doing anything!
I also hate having a messy kitchen and I know there is stuff I need to do and it is hanging over my head I feel guilty and so I don't quilt once again... but I know I have to force myself and once I am over that hurdle there is no stopping the creativeness that ensues....

Kathleen Tracy said...

Honestly, after I finished cleaning my sink and bathroom, I sat down and made a bunch of little blocks I can probably turn into a small quilt.

Christine said...

Wow, you sound just like me. I think I need to spend some time sorting my scraps tomorrow.

Leeanne said...

This is not silly stuff, but good to know I'm not the only one like this, sometimes I am in a rush rush, I don't take the time to do a simple thing that makes me feel uncluttered or tidy.
Thank you :-)

Merilyn said...

I think that after a few chores you feel like you deserve to spend some creative time in the sewing room!!! It's like, at least you have achieved something practical and then you can relax and be creative!!!

marian said...

I often play classical or lounge music when i'm sewing or weaving..i find it extremely relaxing & motivating.
As i was tidying up my messy sewing space this morning i was suddenly inspired to make a start on my small quilt for my swap partner Jan. I'm happy with what i achieved today and hope to get it finished tomorrow.

Ulla's Quilt World said...

Hi! Greetings from Finland! I LOVE your quilts! The colors are so fantatsic! It's so nice to find other quilters from the other side of the world! :)

moosecraft said...

Great ideas for enjoying the creative process! Sometimes all you really need is to just start something... and then energy follows! I do enjoy music all the time while stitching! Big Band and classical... I save the rock and roll for house cleaning time... lol! Which, I can totally relate to the windows and sinks sparkling makes you feel better. BOM's is what gave me the courage to try bigger quilts. I figured what could be better (and less intimidating) than have bites of it spoon fed to me over the months... it seems to be working! Have a fantastic day!

MaryLu said...

You know, I think you hit on something I've been struggling with lately. I had a project that was calling me, but I just couldn't seem to get motivated enough to start it.
The sink-thing is a big one for me too. And the windows, if I can't see a spot of beauty in my world, I feel so unmotivated to create a beautiful thing in my sewing room.
The Fly-lady suggests that you keep your sink polished nightly, so that you can wake to a beautiful "spot" in your kitchen.
We are funny creatures, aren't we.
I love your "sentimental quilts" the colors are so lovely. It's what I imagine my quilts will look like when I'm done, but they rarely do. I'll keep trying.

Jeana said...

This is why I absolutely love your blog! You are so real and down-to-earth. You make me feel "normal." Thank you!!!

Donna K from N.TX aka Quilting Bear Gal said...

Motivation is what I need most times. Thanks for sharing what works for you. I'll give it a try.

Donna said...

Timely comments and hints. Just what I needed!

Donna

The Civil War Quilter said...

Thanks for sharing what motivates you. It takes something different for each of us, doesn't it? Since all I make is Civil War themed quilts, I listen to Civil War music when I quilt. It really gets me in the right mindset.

Karen said...

A very timely post for me as been in a bit of a sewing slump myself. Thanks for your ideas. When I feel overwelmed, I start with shining my sink too. I learned that along with many helpful routines from FlyLady.net. It totally helps and keeps me sane!

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