The Creative Process

Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind ever since the new year started, and that is how to spark creativity. I find that winter, as much as I don’t like it, is typically the season when I accomplish the most crafting/sewing projects. I contribute this to the fact that there are fewer distractions than there are in the warmer months, mostly because it’s freezing outside and stays dark for longer. That being said, I still struggle to either start or finish creative endeavors even when I have ample time. I lose confidence or realize I don’t have a game plan to complete the project, and it fizzles out quickly. I have material that’s been cut out for weeks for a sweatshirt that’s been in my head for months and it still hasn’t seen my sewing machine. Why? I simply lost confidence that I could make it, even though deep down I know that I have more than enough sewing and design skills to do it. But I let myself overthink the whole process and my creativity stalled. On a side note, while typing this I realized I also have a quilt that I started in September 2013 that has yet to be completed. So there’s that as well…

This week I was able to complete not one but two projects I’d been meaning to do for quite some time, and I’m going to share some advice that I believe works for all creative projects (and will hopefully help me finish that sweatshirt!): in the words of Nike, just do it. That’s right, overthinking is just about the most harmful thing you could do to yourself while embarking on a crafting project. I’ve found that when I overthink all the steps needed to complete a project, I end up psyching myself out and everything freezes. I tried to put these words to practice this week on the second of my two projects. I wanted to fill a small frame with some sort of fun, colorful pattern, so I traced the outline and just went for it with a bunch of Prisma markers and a pencil. I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted the final product to look like, other than the fact that I wanted it to add a pop of color to our gallery wall. And guess what? It turned out horribly.

Yep. I ended up adding too many small, abstract details in the limited space I had to work with and it just looked weird. However, as I was finishing it up and realizing I didn’t like it, an exact idea of what I did want to do popped into my head. I traced a new outline and made a new pattern immediately after finishing the first failure, and in about a quarter of the time. So yes, while three quarters of my time was spent drawing something I’ll never use, I definitely do not view it as a waste of time.

Spending time creating something is sort of like therapy for me, even if I don’t end up liking the finished product. It lets me unplug from all the busyness and distractions of life and stretches my brain to think in new ways and see things differently. I can guarantee you that at all stages of my life, I’ll always have some sort of project that I’m working on, whether big or small, long or short term. And I would encourage you to do the same. You might be surprised at your abilities and the ideas you end up having. Or you might not be. Either way, it’s time well spent.

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