creativity block

September 13th, 2012


I haven’t been down in my studio for a good three months. Three months! You could call it creativity block or you could call it my own personal soul sucking, fear mongering, mental fog inducing, self-esteem deflating, psychosis making machine.  Not to put too fine a point on it or anything.

studio wall

I try not to ask myself why I tape flowers and leaves on the wall, or make my kids’ undies, or crochet cozies for our ottoman, because there is no satisfying answer. But questions do creep in: why not make something less ridiculous? why not make something that is actually profitable? why waste your time making silly things to show the internet? why do this when so many people do it better? why not use that expensive education of yours? Once the questions start, they don’t stop, and they become debilitating.  Soul sucking now seems a more appropriate term than creativity block, don’t you think?

fabric stacks

But making things, be it underwear, tools, flying suits, computer programs, or whatever, is what humans do. Our survival once depended on our ability to solve problems creatively. Now that drive is part of who we are and when the urge to make things goes unfulfilled we feel less human.

So I’m trying, trying to make things again, trying to feel human again. I know I hit these creative brick walls yearly and slam into them repeatedly until I find a ladder, but this time the ladder has been hard to find. I cleaned up my studio yesterday–even slapped some paint on the wall–hoping the ladder was there somewhere. Does this happen to you (hit a wall, let the sewing machine gather dust, avoid even thinking about making)? How do you get past it?


Posted in craft, the everyday.

73 Responses to creativity block

  1. mary sather says:

    It took me a long while to realize that I am seasonal about my crafts. knitting and sewing happen in the winter. gardening and reading and home renovating in the summer. cooking both, but the focus shifts accordingly. Paper crafts happen around christmas card time. I used to get quite freaked out when I lost interest in a medium, thinking that I had just wasted all that money investing in supplies, but now I can recognize that there is a season to the craft, and rarely can I get motivated to make something out of season. I now try to limit my focus to improving my skills at my current crafts and to using the stash, so that I am not tricked into searching for something new to learn. There’s a time for learning new crafts, but too many irons in the fire is never a good thing. a good cleaning never hurt motivation, and while cleaning I try to pick out one stashed away item and use it up, so that I don’t hold on to the “too precious to use” items forever. I also pick a person and make something for them as a surprise. That helps me break out of only thinking about what I like. And Pinterest certainly helps me collect ideas to springboard off of. I just have to go and look at my boards and pick a feature of some item to copy. Almost always, the copy soon morphs into something that is my own.

  2. shelly says:

    all of the time. too often it seems lately.

  3. molly says:

    Damn, I don’t mean this the wrong way, but I love it when the Anne LaMott comes out in you. (Not to put to fine a point on it).

    Soul sucking is a familiar sound around here. Typically characterized by a loud whooshing in the ears, and jungle drums in the brain. Most often heard between 1 and 6 a.m.

    I’m thinking, while the paint cans are out, a ladder on the wall might be just the thing? I’m thinking Harold and his crayon, here…

    For what it’s worth? We work your magic into our days. Small consolation, I realize. Completely unprofitable, I understand. Still. Credit where its due.

    Climb when you can, as many rungs as you can muster. And damn it all, thanks for having the courage to shout it out.


  4. Sara says:

    I don’t know what your religious back ground is, but I find it helps to look to the Lord as the source of my creativity. It comes from him and is for him. I wrote about a few weeks ago and hope it will be inspiring to someone.