Around the third week in January I always seem to hit a slump and as I look around groups on Ravelry, Facebook and other platforms, I realise that most of you in one way or another are feeling the same. So, this blog post is for all of you.
In each interview on the podcast or in person, I have asked some variation of the question “How do you deal with creative slumps?” The answers are always inspiring, motivational or thought provoking. Today, I even threw out the question to my twitter followers and I’ve put together this list of answers from designers, dyers and writers, in the hope that you will read this and know that you are not alone.
Writer, maker and curious sole. From Twitter:
I think the word creative puts to much pressure on us. I try to recognise all the things I grow, cook, write, sew on a daily basis and celebrate that my ability to create persists across the board even when I feel it has hit a lull in a particular area. The knowledge that my ability to create is a default even in difficult times provides reassurance it will return. There’s comfort in knowing being creative is innate even if the form and outlets may ebb and flow.
Hat Architect. From CLN Podcast, episode 3 (15min:30sec)
I have to work through that as I’m running a business and what makes me sad is that I feel like I’m creating things that I’m not that excited about because I’m running a business. That the business side is taking over from the creative side through need because you have to work through it. Being able to stop and bring your creativity back to the table, is a luxury that you don’t have when you rely on it to support your family, so you have to work through that. Ruts are hard to get out of and I usually use instinct.
Carol Feller – Stolenstitches.com
Knitwear Designer. From Twitter:
They are a lot more frequent than most people admit. You’ve got to really love what you’re working on to push through the crap parts so that you’ve got the parts you like to look forward to.
Evin O’Keeffe – EvinOK
Author & Publisher. From CLN Podcast episode 4 (8min:00sec)
I thought, I can do this and if I don’t I will fail trying. What’s the worst that is going to happen? I can still get up and dust myself off and try again.
Gillian Harkness – Mina Loves Designs
Designer. From CLN Podcast episode 5
I suppose for me a way of battling the creative slump is to get my camera out and go for a walk. I find the landscapes, building and things I see while out do help spark some ideas for designs. Then I doodle some sketches and it helps get my mojo back. Reflecting on this I think definitely taking some time to relax helps settle the foggy brain and let me focus again.
Designer. From Twitter:
I often feel a bit overwhelmed and lose a bit of my creative impetus. I feel as though I should be working on something but I don’t know what. At times like that, I often find that going through my stored yarn really helps. Something about the physical touching (and yes, maybe sniffing the yarn too) helps to reconnect me with what I love about my craft. It often sparks new ideas and inspiration and them I’m off and running (or rather, knitting) again.
Independent Yarn Dyer. From Twitter
Honestly, go for a walk. Get fresh air. Read a book. I have to seek creativity elsewhere or fall into EXISTENTIAL DREAD.
Fiona Kelly – Fiona Grows Food
Writer, blogger, gardner. From Cottage Talks
I’m so glad I decided not to give it up because it has gone from strength to strength. Sometimes I still think “Fudge! This is too much. The weeds are a joke. The weathers too bad. My potatoes have blight. Slugs ate my seedlings.” But then I see a hare on my plot or I pick some tomatoes and I know I’ll continue to grow, despite all the challenges. The joy of the garden outweighs the hardship.
Yvonne McSwieny – Dublin Dye Company
Independent Dyer. From Cottage Talks
I don’t spend big blocks of time in the studio, it’s always in and out from the house so it’s not too solitary (my house is rarely quiet!) But sometimes I am just not motivated, and then I do what I need to keep things going, filling orders (etsy and wholesale) as they come in, and otherwise take a bit of a break. I spent a lot of time and effort on the business last year… and wore myself out in the process. So I’ve let it take a bit of a back seat recently, and I’m playing around a bit more with some different things that interest me. New yarns, new colours, and the Irish Dye Junkies market have encouraged and motivated me. That’s also how the mini skeins got started, I wanted to try something a little different.
Denise Deegan – denisedeegan.wordpress.com
Author. From Twitter:
I tell myself I’ll be doing this till I die. There’s no rush. I’m doing it because I love it. Then I go out & enjoy myself!
Robynn Weldon – Studiomirando.com
Knitwear Designer & Editor. From Twitter:
For me a slump comes from either burnout, or too much pressure. Unlike in my day job, I really don’t respond well to pressure in creative work. So I try to avoid it – for instance by not submitting designs to magazines. But if I do find myself in that situation, and I’m blocked, the best thing is to take as much time away from the troublesome project as possible. Let it simmer away in the back of my head and the knots will work themselves out far better than if I fight with them every day. If it’s a more general slump – burnout – the answer is basically the same, scaled up: don’t push it. Don’t try to knit or design when it’s just not fun. Rather take time to do all the other things I enjoy – run, read, watch movies – and the creative pot will refill itself. Always.
Sarah Shotts – Sarashotts.com
Blogger & Venture Camper Extraordinaire. From Twitter:
For big emotional slumps, I focus on self-care: good food, move my body, be kind to myself, get outside, etc. And for inspiration needing slumps, I turn to a different creative medium (new craft, a new recipe, a new art medium) & create just for fun. Also adventures: going to a museum, hiking, thrifting, exploring a new place to fill my creative tank. Julia Cameron’s book The Artists Way is great and says we need weekly “Artist Dates” although I’m not sure I do them quite weekly.
I admire everyone that I have quoted and after reading this before publishing, I felt sad but also inspired to create. My way of dealing with slumps is usually a beach walk followed by a comedy show or I read a blog post from a favourite blogger and I try to laugh. I’ve even punched the air singing at the top of my lungs from my desk to old rock songs. It usually gets me focused or hyper in which case a swim is needed.
To all of you reading this, I’d like to ask you my question:
How do you beat your creative slump?
Let me know in the comments