6 Ways to Overcome Your Creative Blocks

We all experience creative blocks for different reasons. A couple years ago I was too exhausted from costumes to find motivation to sew for my everyday-self. Sometimes I drag my feet because I’m scared to make mistakes. Other times, the number of tasks that lead up to actually working seem insurmountable.

Over time, I’ve learned a few tricks to find motivation and build momentum to organize, sew, or just do SOMETHING.

1- Make a quick decision. Any decision. Usually it is the fear of making the wrong decision that is holding up my sewing. What color lining should I use? Did this blouse fit better before or after I adjusted the seam allowance? Is this even the fabric I want to use for this project? I learned that making a quick decision, like where to hang a picture or who to invite to dinner next weekend, can help remove some of that decision making fear. Sure, it probably works better if you are making a decision related to your stagnation, so decide which thread and needle you’ll use. Cool. Now, what is your next decision?

2 – Set a timer. This encourages you to focus on a task for a set amount of time. I started doing this when I fold my laundry, and what use to take me days to complete now can take me 10-15 minutes.

3 – Clean or organize something. Usually I can’t find the energy to work because my work space is cluttered. So rather than try to clean AND sew, I choose to clean an area  of my sewing room (not the whole room!) so that the next time I feel like sewing, I’ll already have a clean space to work.

4 – Put away your phone and computer. This is my biggest distraction. I can go to check a text message and then spend 30 minutes on social media. If you have set a timer, put the phone on the other side of the room from where you are working. I have a compulsive habit of just picking up my phone whether or not I intend to check anything. 

5 – Set the mood with music or a topically relevant podcast. What physically gets you moving? Is it classical music that inspires you to waltz around the room? Or is is late-1990s bubble gum pop that you still remember all the lyrics to? Alternatively, podcasts can keep my brain moving while I do a mundane task, such as sorting fabric.

And finally:

6 – Grab a sheet of paper, or your journal, and just write. Yes, this may appear to delay your creative time even more, but sometimes there are unaddressed emotions that are inhibiting your creativity. Are you afraid of making a mistake and ruining that silk from your grandmother’s dress? Are you feeling annoyed at taking on a project for someone and simultaneously feeling guilty for having those thoughts about “doing a favor for a friend”? Do you want this to be PERFECT? Is your personal or professional life weighing you down with some burden?

Write words. Doodle. Whatever thoughts come to you. Even if you write “I don’t know.” You may find that you don’t WANT to work on this project, which can open up a whole new set of questions. You may even find inspiration for a blog post…like I just did!

What do you do to breakdown creative blocks? Share in the comments below.

Go forth and sew!

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2 thoughts on “6 Ways to Overcome Your Creative Blocks

  1. As a corollary to making a decision, give yourself an easy win, especially if your last project had exceptional challenges or ended in some degree of failure. A success, any success, can give you the confidence, or at the very least the momentum, to tackle the project you really want to work on. Make up a tried-and-true pattern; sew something that’s easy to fit or requires no fitting at all; fix a dropped hem or reattach a button. It will remind you that you may not know everything about sewing, but you do know *something,* and with luck it will also rekindle the joy of having fabric sliding along under your fingers through the machine.

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