(Yes. Lower case title, just to reclaim some of my quirkiness.)
I recently posted about taking a break from the creative world, from the quilty world, from whatever and while I was gone, I had some to time to think about how I’d gotten to that non-creative place.
I’d say, for me it was a factor of four: Time, Health, and Mental/Physical Fatigue, as well as a Too Much to Do. My Dad used to say “Too many irons in the fire put out the flame.” While a reference to the bars of iron that blacksmiths use, I did have too much going on.
I was intrigued with the idea of Creative Block, and one article “7 Types of Creative Block and What to Do About Them,” from my favorite place online (99U) discussed this issue, that apparently is a very-much-real thing. In that piece, I liked the sub-topic of Work habits that don’t work, as I have been struggling to (re)learn three new computer programs: EQ7 (I learn it, then forget it, and there’s so many hurdles with the design of this software…but then that’s another post), Affinity Photo (to replace Photoshop) and Affinity Designer (to replace Illustrator). Three more irons in that proverbial fire.
99U’s advice to “[s]tep back and take a good look at how you’re working, and where the pain points are….If you don’t have enough energy, are you working at the right time of day? If you feel paralyzed by freedom, introduce more structure and order into your day. If you feel constrained by routine, find room for improvisation” felt like it was just for me.
I always love the Brain Pickings articles, and the review on a book from Danielle Krysa (Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists) seems to hit some of those stuck spots:
Jessica Bell noted that “When I can’t make progress, it is often because I am mentally scattered; this happens when I am overcommitted or have a schedule without any breathing room in it. I have to have a lot of space and quiet in my head to think my best thoughts. An artist I admire told me a few years ago that “you can’t make art in the cracks.” Carving out a block of time devoted to nothing else but the pursuit of new work has never steered me wrong.”
So, Miss Gasoline Station stepped aside and made space for some creative time. I’ll be posting a few projects in the next post, but since it’s summer and it’s time to play, it’s good to keep a balance between working and quilting and cooking and playing and family and friends…
Thanks to all of you who wrote and left comments on my last post. We headed out that day for a family reunion and I left the keyboard behind, but I read them all and appreciated your encouragement. I’m slipping back into the creative life, one stitch at a time.
The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping stone in the pathway of the strong. –Thomas Carlyle
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules;
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
–R. L. Sharpe
Because who knows what might spur your creativity, I’ve got some books to give away. If what I’m giving away (this will go on, erratically, for several posts) tickles your fancy or appeals to you in some way, if you leave a comment, please let me know you’d like to enter the giveaway. Some of the books are ones I’ve purchased and read, and no longer need; others were publisher giveaways at Quilt Market, and it’s time to pass them on.
The first one is Lines by Design by Debbie Grifka, a lovely book on how to make elegant modern quilts. Good luck! Giveaway will close in a few days and I’ll contact the winner by email and get it sent out.
23 thoughts on “creative block”
I’m writing this in a campground in the Swiss Alps in front of a glacier covered mountain . I elected to stay here while my husband and visiting cousin hike due to shin splints that need to heal before an upcoming walking trip. You said some good things about refinding that creative spot when it has gone. And doing too much definitely does it! I also believe there is a rhythm, an ebb and tide in our lives that we need to embrace–such as this moment for me. I really don’t mind them hiking without me (even though I’m sure it’s an incredible hike). I get alone time, to think and reflect and find order in the next tasks (chosen and unchosen). Restoring the balance restores the creativity? (Would love to be to be in the Giveaway ! 😉
There are many interesting things that ring true Elizabeth, especially the statement about forcing something is not going to create anything beyond mediocre….my NYB quilt comes to mind! I’m looking forward to seeing what the next stage of your creative life brings! While I’d love to be entered in your giveaway, I totally understand that postage restrictions may preclude me!
Your father was such a smart man when he told you too many irons puts out the flame. I thought of my situation and wondered if that was what was happening to me and it was. So I am regrouping and hopefully I’ll be back to my old self.
I LOVE the feeling of taking the extra irons out of the fire. I recently discovered a few extra irons that I really didn’t need. Once I got rid of them my imagination was able to start up again. I also noticed that I have more energy for the things I love like family and creative projects.
Please enter me in your Lines by Designs giveaway.
PS do I get brownie points or a crazy person’s demerit for responding at this early hour?
I discovered years ago that I can’t force creativity. Stepping back and getting rid of the junk in my head and the unnecessary physical stuff around me helps. “Me” time is important to maintain balance. I’ve also found that ideas come when I’m exercising as I just let my mind wander. Please enter me in your Lines by Design Quilts giveaway.
Someone once told me that not everything is a subpoena, something one is required by law to obey. It has been a helpful guide in sorting out what I retain in my “inbox”, and what I “return” to whoever issued me the subpoena. Your post also reminds me of that wonderful Matisse quote, “Creativity takes courage.” It is no small thing that you do…it is an act of great courage. 💕💕💕
Lots of reflective wisdom in this post Elizabeth. I, too, have quotes from my father that I hear at certain times. One of the more frequent quotes is ” the more I know, the more I don’t know.”
I would very much like to enter the giveaway. Thank you!
Elizabeth, dear, thank you for taking some time out to refresh your soul and your body. Having undergone the whole shoulder ‘thing’ I want to remind you that a physical trauma to your body effects you in ways that we don’t often think of. The pain, the surgery, the anesthetic, the meds, the pt all drain your energy and your psyche. Healing is so much more than the relief of pain and takes so much longer than we think it should. Rest and re-fuel and take care of yourself.
Thank you for the reminder to relax & Let It Flow ~ my current Inertia Block feels like I’ve been unplugged & am a spectator (also ok when needed 😉 ~big hugs~
PS 🙂 Lines by Design Quilts – Please ~ I’m in!
Thank you for the book giveaway. Design inspiration is everywhere and I have never read a book without inspiration for at least one quilt. It might just be a color combination or a shape that catches your eye or even how it is quilted. Love to read books from cover to cover.
I’d like to enter your giveaway – thanks
This book looks amazing!! And such wise advice
So much good food for thought as usual. I need to break some habits that get in the way of actually working. Too much computer, not enough sewing machine time.
Great reflection on stumbling blocks in the creative life! I would love to be entered in the drawing for this fabulous book by my Minimalist Quilting Hero. 🙂
I would like to enter !! Books are awesome 😀
What a thoughtful post thanks for sharing your creative journey with us. It is such a good reminder to slow down, step back, reflect. I love that colored boulder photo.
I would LOVE to win the book as I’ve been experimenting with the modern principals.
Well stated post! It is truly about the balance. Please include me in your giveaway draw.
I guess I rarely stop to think why I’m unable to be creative. The line that resonated with me most was about being paralyzed by freedom to add structure back into your life. With summertime here I have so much freedom and am unable to sit and make. I would love to add this book to my collection. Straight lines are my favorite right now.
Time for reflection is priceless….glad you are refilling your tank! I would like to be entered in your give-away for the “Lines by Design” by Debbie Grifka, Modern style quilts are one of my soft spots.
Also, thank you for your blog…you inspire me to stretch myself to make what I love, despite the busy-ness of my life and regardless of my tempo in my sewing room.
Yes, I’d love to win this book!
It looks and sounds like the family reunion was just what the doctor ordered. I also find that creativity slows to a crawl during the summer when there are so many activities and, for you, energy draining heat. I hope you enjoyed the slow down.