Creativity Tips {Discussion}

Last fall, I registered for and took The Marketing Seminar offered by Seth Godin. It was an intense and incredible experience, and I will share more about that experience in future blog posts. What made the seminar truly spectacular were the participants. Much like the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, what you get out of The Marketing Seminar (TMS) depends on what you put into it, the time you set aside, and the interactions you create with the other participants.

Because TMS has professionals from a wide range of industries, what works best is critical reading of others posts (note: any blogger, blog reader, and frequent comment writer will find those skills readily translate) and careful consideration of clarifying questions. I found that I did not need to know the details of the other person’s business as much as I needed to ask them questions about the topic at hand. Having others do the same in return really helped me.

One of the fantastic people I met during TMS is David Wahl, the VP of Awesome for Archie McPhee and writer behind the blog Creative Creativity. On his Creative Creativity blog, David has embraced a blog every day challenge for the month of January, and he has shared a lot of great content. In particular, I want to highlight two of his recent posts with you today:

I have experienced quilting burnout and creativity blocks around quilting, and I know many others have as well. So, I’m going to break down some of the tips in David’s posts and I’d love to hear other tips or ideas you might have for how to jump start your quilting creativity or re-energize your quilting mojo in the comments!

The idea doing your worst work is intriguing. Throw caution to the wind and sew breaking some rules; ignore the sound of your inner quilting police and what might happen? Are the rules you create by really necessary or are they limiting you?

Tidy Seams

Tidy Seams

There are a few rules of sewing and quilting that I no doubt try to honor: a quarter inch or scant quarter inch seam allowance keeps things held together. But have you ever done some intricate and beautiful piecing work and almost felt it was a shame that the seams go INSIDE the quilt sandwich? What if that is a rule that doesn’t have to be followed. What if I created an art quilt and left my seams on the outside. I think that would be a fabulous avenue for exploration!

As David mentions in his post, the key to this exercise is to really listen to the voice of judgment in our own heads.

When doing your worst work, there is no judgment. (Or is it all judgment?) In fact, the criticism in your head fuels what you’re working on. That voice in your head that tells you what you’re doing is bad is suddenly empowered. Instead of shooting down your ideas, it’s coming up with ideas to make it worse!

Turning that inner voice or inner critic into the idea driver might be a very uncomfortable position to put ourselves in, but how freeing might it be on the other side?

Which brings the post very neatly around to another one of David’s creativity tips: making mistakes on purpose. David shares an exercise in improvisation in the post where you get up and move your body around the room, find 10 objects and purposefully give them the wrong name. Try this in your sewing space (it was hard for me, I went slowly!) and see what happens. Does it make connections where you hadn’t seen them before?

I especially like how David encourages us to follow up on the exercise:

Why did I call the lamp a slow cooker? Is there a connection? The light bulb does produce heat, could it cook? An Easy-Bake oven was just a light bulb in a plastic box and it cooked very slowly. Could you use the heat from the lighting in your house to cook? What if ovens were all boxes with giant light bulbs and you had to wear protective goggles to cook so you didn’t go blind?

I don’t know when or if I’ll create an inside out quilt, but it is definitely something I have had in the back of my mind that going through these exercises brought up and reminded me.

How do you spark your creativity when you are feeling burned out?

27 thoughts on “Creativity Tips {Discussion}

  1. The idea of doing your worst work…hmmm I’ve been sitting here trying to decide if I could even do it. My inner voice is screaming no way. This is a very thought provoking post.

  2. kaholly says:

    When I’m having bloggers block, I just wait until it happens. But when I’ve lost my sewing mojo, I usually WANT to sew, I just can’t settle. Nothing is motivating me. I feel like the cat that sits at the window, chattering at the birds it can’t get to. That’s when I pull out my list of ‘blocks I always wanted to try’. While I do end up with a few rogue blocks, I eventually hit upon one block I so enjoy making, I just can’t stop.

  3. Kate says:

    My biggest enemy with creativity is not having the time to let the ideas evolve, plus all the guilt from unfinished projects. The second has really put a damper on being willing to be creative and try new things. It’s like a metal bar keeping the creativity door closed. Trying to fix that this year by finishing up projects.
    Some of my worst ideas have turned out pretty cool, you just have to not stop before you are finished and be willing to tinker a bit. Some very interesting things to ponder when you consider creativity.

  4. I do a couple of things, that I can think of, to help me get my creativity off and running. Sometimes I just start sewing fabric scraps together. I don’t pay much attention to how they go together or how many seams, I just put them together. It usually ends up as a mug mat, but often gets me back on track, since I’m thinking creatively as I’m working. Another thing I do is work on another creative medium, like pulling out a coloring page and my colored pencils, or painting a quick watercolor.

  5. Alison says:

    For me, it certainly helps to have a number of different projects to work on. If I don’t feel doing one thing, I can do a variety of other things. I try to have at least one project that’s easy to pick up and put away during the week for any spare time that I might have — easy piecing things when I just want to sew. Obviously deadlines are motivators and that really helps me stay organized and on task as well.

  6. helen says:

    I go and do something else, when I reach quilting block, I knit instead, or bake, or read, or do some “potting up” in the garden. I actually enjoy all these things, and do them simultaneous. But …. when I get fed, or in my case reach overload, I switch the proportions.

  7. aquilterstable says:

    I mostly face burnout by doing something totally for the fun of it. Exploring, like with your inside-out idea, would be exactly that!

  8. cowanche says:

    Sometimes you just have to take a moment and say ‘what if…’. I stare at the design wall and quickly jot down 10 things (less than 3 minute exercise with no filters) that could be done with the piece that’s pinned there. I put all of these in a cup and randomly draw one out … force myself to use it. It always produces a laugh (orange velvet combined with aqua corduroy), but occasionally, an ‘aha’ moment that sends me down another rabbit hole. Thanks for the post!

  9. I love the idea of assigning the wrong word for an object! Sounds super intriguing! My 100-day project taught me that sometimes creating “bad work” leads to really happy discoveries. I try hard not to judge my work, but to just let it flow where it wants to go. It’s liberating and exhilerating. As for burnout, I find stepping away and pursuing other passions like walking in nature or baking will recharge my creativity. We can’t always be “on” and isn’t that a good thing?!

  10. Liz W. says:

    That seminar does sound super intense! I love the look of Tidy Seams, is that supposed to be the outside? I’m not particularly creative so I haven’t experienced creativity burnout yet, but I have experienced minor bouts of execution burnout, and the only remedy for me is to do something else for awhile!

  11. Susan Gray says:

    fantastic idea, I generally break rules and the idea of putting seams on the outside appeals to me, gotta make a mini with that to check it out, thanks

  12. Facetfully says:

    Great post, Yvonne…thanks for sharing some of your rich experience at that seminar! Your “worst” sewing…that intrigues me, as I am not sure there is such a thing…but I do understand the idea. But you know, “any day quilting”… I find improv work, sewing without a plan, and looking at UFOS in a new way all jump-start me. Scrap-busting is another way to get out of the head. That said, these can all be difficult for me because I am a planner and a thinker! Thanks again…and thanks to all who commented, as well!

  13. Great post, Yvonne! I really enjoy Seth Godin’s daily email, so I can see where the seminar would be useful. I’ll have to keep an eye out for when it is open again. I don’t think I’ve ever found myself stuck creatively for any length of time, but I think that’s likely because I have so many projects in different stages that I can switch what I’m working on. Don’t feel like piecing? Quilt! Don’t feel like quilting? EPP! And if all else fails, take some time off and go for a walk or read a book.

  14. Lindsay says:

    Oooooh I LOVE the idea of a seams-out quilt. Most of the time I think it’s a shame to hide the beautiful seams inside, but the times when my seams look less than great I’m very happy to never see them again. I agree with a few people who have already commented, that the great part about crafting is you can always start a new project or pivot to something that’s in a different stage of creation. After a massive rush of sewing around Christmas, I have been happy to sit on the couch hand binding some quilts for the past few weeks. And now I feel energized to get back behind the sewing machine again. It’s all a balance!

  15. Connie Kresin Campbell says:

    Sounds like a great seminar Yvonne! I always have several different projects going on and when I start free-motion quilting…..I usually do more than one thing. I also like to work with Photoshop and graphics so I bounce back and forth plus I enjoy learning and taking classes online. There are not enough hours in the day!

  16. jude made it says:

    Yvonne, great post…food for thought! I enjoyed reading others’ comments too. So much to learn here. I look forward to reading more about your seminar, thank you so much for sharing! It seems in a craft that I have spent almost a lifetime doing, there is always room to learn more.

  17. David Wahl says:

    Thank you for the mention in your post, Yvonne! I learned so much from you during the seminar. Also, just discovering how vibrant, creative and supportive the quilting community is has also been inspiring to me. I’m wondering how I can apply the idea of “seams on the outside” to my own work… Hmmm…

  18. Simone says:

    Once upon a time I started a new project. But these days I tend to tidy or rearrange my creative space. That journey often gets me listening to my inner voice and quieting the negative vibes I’ve allowed to enter. I have been destashing by making charity quilts and that has given me a freedom to explore outside preferred techniques and styles. I sometimes buy very low priced fat quarters that go together but are not my style with the express purpose of making something useful for someone who would need or love something handmade. It has led me to techniques I would not have discovered without these little side trips. Charity quilting, especially kitting up or attending a charity sewing day are very much dive right in adventures and I really think it’s led to being more free when I do sit down to make something that truly reflects me and my style.

  19. springleafstudios says:

    Very thought provoking post. I just tried walking around naming things incorrectly and found it difficult but also interesting. I’m a pretty structured person and find it hard to loosen up.

  20. I haven’t hit the wall with actual quilting creativity, yet, but I am questioning the whole marketing aspect of trying to make a business of it. As always I love how you share your journey! You are so real it is inspiring.

  21. Kaja says:

    Thanks Yvonne, for another thought-provoking post. Funnily enough I have looked at pictures of beautiful seams (other people’s, not my own) and thought they should be the front of a quilt. Your lovely precise work would lend itself perfectly to this. When I get stuck I remind myself that it’s only fabric and jump in, but I think that’s probably easier with improv anyway.

  22. Very thought provoking post. I really like the idea of intentionally making mistakes. An inside out quilt sounds like fun!

  23. Anne Johnson says:

    Loved your post and all the insightful comments. Hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but rag quilts are made with the seams on the outside. I made one for my grandson out of minky. (Tried to pist a picture – no luck.

  24. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I try to ignore the quilt police, because they are just some invisible people who think they can tell me how to be creative.

  25. Kathleen McCormick says:

    A lot of things to think about in this one! For unsticking – I do a couple of things. I get outside, listen to music, browse through pinterest, browse through my books, go to a museum. All can inspire me in different ways. The quilt ‍♀️ talk to me a lot so getting rid of that voice is pretty hard. I am finding the drawing every day in the 365 days of art challenge helpful in letting go a bit.

  26. Tracie says:

    I listened to a podcast with photographer Wayne Moran. He doesn’t plan on making photography his main career that he depends on because suddenly he would have to create rather than get to create.

    I’ve met Wayne in person, so I know how passionately devoted he is to his side hustle. I think he can make it work because his children are grown, so he and his wife can focus their “free” time on travel and photography.

    I found this interesting because in college I decided to major in English rather than textile arts so that my craft would always be my hobby. Later I wondered if that was the best choice. Maybe … after spending so much time on a computer for work, I no longer enjoy photo editing or digital scrapbooking—my other hobby. Quilting is an escape, a delight.

  27. Kristie Cook says:

    This is a very thought provoking post! When I reach a creative block, I usually start cleaning. Whether I’m cleaning the house or my craft space, I find keeping my hands busy with simple tasks keeps my “logical” brain occupied. This really allows my “creative” brain to take over and work through some ideas floating around in my head. I’ve also started doing a “brain dump” at the end of the day into a journal. No rules, no format, just jotting down what comes to my mind. Then I can look at the next day & see if there are things I need to put in a more formal place – my agenda, my project book, my sketch book, etc. I’ve also found that this helps me get to sleep & stay asleep! As for your seams on the outside thoughts, I say go for it! I have a quilt top that involves FPP & I chain pieced. I realized, after chain piecing about 20+ blocks, that I had seams facing the wrong way. No way was I going to unpick them all! I decided to keep them as part of a textural design feature & I’m loving the way it’s turning out!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)