In the Creative Desert

Creativity is a funny thing. It requires focus, time, dedication, energy and an extreme amount of nurturing. I find there is a delicate balance and if I slip too far one way, I find myself in the Creative Desert. If I had a friend with these requirements, I would probably tell her to put on her big girl pants and stop whining.

I want to get along with Creativity, though, so I find that some of the causes finding myself in the Creative Desert are:

  • loss of momentum
  • interruptions
  • distractions

Interruptions, for me, often lead to loss of momentum.

The Internet’s vast wealth of blogs, images (Pinterest, I am looking at you!),words, fabulousity that I could never have imagined, etc. Family obligations, which can be managed somewhat, but not completely are a problem as well.

I have found some things that help to jolt me back into the game:

  • open a charm pack, put it on your design wall and start rearranging. I spent a lot of time, after being in the Creative Desert for awhile, staring at those charm squares. In the past I have forced myself to either stare at them or rearrange them for an hour.
  • cutting some interesting shape (check out Come Quilt with Me rotary cutting templates) from groups of fabric and just keep cutting them until you have enough to make a quilt.
  • make napkins or tote bags
  • try out blocks you have always wanted to try, though I find that something rote is better when I am in the Creative Desert
  • make journal covers or notebook covers
  • donation blocks
  • take like colors from your scraps and just start sewing them together crazy quilt style. Just sew, don’t think. Trim as needed until you have a new piece of fabric.

Yes, I have sewed those charms square arrangements together. I have a few of them around and they will probably never become quilts I plan to use. They served their purpose. Perhaps I should put borders on them and give them to the BAMQG Charity Girls?!

Thoughts on Dots was the outcome of some of those charm square rearranging sessions. It has a similar look and feel and required the same kind of working style. It created momentum.

Now I try and stay out of the Creative Desert using the following strategies:

  • always knowing what my next step on something is. If I am stuck on one project, I usually have another project on which I know where I am going.
  • having projects in the hunting and gathering stage
  • doing all the steps of the project, even the ones I don’t like. This prevents one small thing from keeping me from moving forward.
  • don’t let projects languish. The longer I don’t work on a project, the less interesting that project becomes.
  • Handwork helps keep the momentum when I have to be away from the machine. If I get out of the habit of sewing, I am more easily distracted by other things (oooooh, shiny!) such as Pinterest, blogs, Flickr, etc.
  • The FOTY project helps me keep my momentum up as well. I can iron one piece of new fabric and cut all the pieces I need in about 5 minutes
  • Have a garment that signals it is time for creativity. Perhaps it is a bathrobe or a well worn soft inside jacket (polarfleece or sweatshirt material come to mind), an apron or smock, slippers or soft socks. Only wear this garment when you are in your workroom. Don’t do other things in it. It needs to be a signal to work creatively.

I hope these strategies help you stay out of the Creative Desert.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

4 thoughts on “In the Creative Desert”

  1. Thanks for the ideas…I am currently in a desert creatively. My studio is piled high with ‘crap’ from pre-Christmas, Christmas and post Christmas… Maybe it would be better to grab some stuff and start cutting into a project rather than force myself to get it all shipshape before playing???

  2. Great post, and reminder. As I read it I realized many of the things you listed I unconsciously do. it is worth having a list for a reminder for those times when I can’t seem to focus out of my funk.

    1. Yes, sometimes we need a nudge or a reminder, even if we do items from the list unconsciously. In a way, I wrote this list as a reminder to myself of techniques to get myself out of a funk.

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