Thursday, 15 September 2016

how to grow your creativity - so you have lost your sewjo?

It happens to us all.  One day we wake up and we just don't feel like creating.  We don't want to sew, don't want to draw, knit, make or do anything remotely intentionally creative.  We just feel MEH.  Or maybe frustrated, uninspired, lazy, too busy, and even inadequate.

In my 10 years of quilting I have experienced many of these ups and downs. The first flush of excitement and joy we get when we are beginners can often be replaced by negative feelings of not being good enough,envy of other fantastic quilters, and thinking,  "what is the point"?

This can be a torturous experience.  Especially early on in your creative journey.  Social Media is the main culprit.  We have so much ready access to be able to view the work of others.  It takes seconds to scroll through our Instagram feeds and be bombarded with the amazing work by quilters and creatives out there.  Pinterest is another culprit.  We have all been caught in that trap of " I will just have a look for 10 minutes" and 2 hours later we are left feeling robbed of our time and sometimes even less sure about our work!

Tip time!
  •  We need to learn to stop comparing our work to that of others all the time.  I know this is no mean feat from personal experience.  It is a constant struggle for us all.  Why not take a social media  break?  Even just for a few days?  Perhaps when you are working on something really important or when you are feeling most overwhelmed by all the talent out there.  Take a few days out of facebook land and Instagram feeds and ban Pinteresting for a while and see how you feel afterwards.  
  • Change how you see the work of others.  View it as inspiration.  Not in a blatantly copying kind of way.  But say you have a quilting idol or similar.  It is helpful to view that person's work as a benchmark.  Perhaps one day you will achieve their level of expertise and seek to be inspired by them rather than comparing where you are now.  Remember everybody's creative journey is different.  We are all in different places.

So what about the times we hit a brick wall?  The ideas are no longer flowing, the urge to make has vanished,  the enthusiasm and passion has buggered off leaving you feeling like an empty vessel.  
Personally I go through cycles of this.  The first time it happened I was horrified and worried that that was me and quilting over.  Through. Finished for ever.  But then slowly, but surely something magic happened and my sewjo returned.  It wasn't a conscious thing in the early days.  It just happened.  
Now though, I almost expect it to happen.  So when it ups and leaves I am ready to deal with it and here is how!
  • I accept it.  I go with the flow.  If I have sewing deadlines etc of course I need to work.  (more on this next week).  However, sometimes we just need a break.  Often coming up to our summer holiday, I find I slump a little with all the busy buzz of school and planning the holiday.  I often return from holiday inspired and raring to go and create.   We get so carried away and enthusiastic and I become almost obsessive, that I overdo it and then end up scunnered.  So I listen to my creativity.

  • Once accepted I do something else.  I procrastinate often.  Yes, procrastination can be a good thing for your creativity!  Sometimes doing something else totally different  to your main creative work opens the mind up to little eureka moments or inspired thoughts of how to do something differently.  Write those down as they are gems!
  • I experiment with different crafts and techniques.  Over the years my love of textiles has grown from fabric, to wools and printing.  I have tried spinning wool, ( fun but hard), felt making(loved that), needle felting(not so much), and lately lino cutting!  I love drawing too !  By opening myself up to something new and immersing myself in it, I am still creating but recapturing that spirit of the beginner again.  Enjoying for enjoyment's sake.  Learning.    There are tonnes of free on line courses out there (CreativeBug, Skillshare among others).    This all feeds into your main creative work and the ideas will flow again!
  • Learn a new technique in quilting or your chosen path.  Over the years I have used on line classes to learn foundation paper piecing among other things.  This links in to my previous point about challenges and learning.  Improvisational patchwork is also a wonderful, freeing technique with no real "rules" and just allows you to cut freely and sew freely too.  Have a bit of plain old fun with a box of scraps.
  • Selfish sewing - we love to make for loved ones and other people don't we?  This is awesome but sometimes just distracting yourself with a little project just for you is needed.  It could be anything!  I have often decided to make myself a cute wee pouch from a precious fat quarter just for me!  This doesn't have to be a huge project.  A quick, easy and selfishly satisfying make can be restorative.

What about when your creative thing is your job?  You still experience some of the same issues whether we create for a living or a hobby.  Some of the tips I have mentioned are helpful in these circumstances but I have also learnt that having a creative job brings it's own joys and pains!  More on that and how I get through the blocks when I have no choice next week!
Please feel free to link up here, share tips in comments, or on Instagram and share how you get over the humps of losing your sewjo!  If you share I will enter you into my lovely fabric giveaway next week!


  1. Great tips!! I'm marvellous at procrastinating and more recently have forced myself to stop feeling guilty about it and now that I give myself permission it often leads to some brilliant ideas, you're so right! :)

    1. Hi Lucy! Thanks for linking up and sharing your tips. Yes who knew procrastination is good!


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