By Jessie Stracener
It seems to me that the creative process gets a lot of press. We create thing all the time, mostly without any celebration of the process or of ourselves for having created. Women create a look; they put together a style of their own before they ever leave the house most days. That, whether we realize it or not, is a neat and creative endeavor that should be celebrated. We create when we put together lunch, or dinner, or bake those awesome cookies. There is the creative process as the world sees it, and then there is what I do to get back into the swing of craftiness or to generate awesome ideas after having something of a creativity block.
When I decided that I wanted to write on this topic my first thought was to Google “creative process”. Turns out I needed a stout cup of coffee to even begin to decipher some of the things that popped up from that search. Most of it was…well…not very creative. I found several general creative process lists. All of them were rather boring and not at all how I approach crafting and making things. Everyone has a creative process. This may sound like an over-generalization but I believe it is true. Our creative process comes into play not only when we sit down and sew that truly beautiful quilt, or when we make those truly special earrings, but in everyday problem solving. Even blogging requires some creativity. Below I have included some steps that I take in my process.
Step 1: Coffee (or other morning beverage)
On mornings that I know I am going to get to spend a significant portion of the day crafting, sewing, blogging, or waking up extra early to complete fun projects, it is an exciting thing. The first thing I do is start a pot of coffee; or if I am home I use my handy dandy Keurig. If you aren’t a coffee or tea drinker, then juice is a fine alternative. I’ve also discovered that smoothies are the bomb. The smell of coffee, fresh and hot, is inspiring to me all by itself. We don’t often take time to enjoy the simple things, so enjoy the taste and smell and just breathe life in.
Step 2: Blog surfing/Blog writing
This may sound strange, but I often find that writing about whatever I decide to write about that day helps me to start thinking about what I want to make that day or what I need to make in the case of custom orders. Taking pictures and putting together a blog post gets the creative juice flowing. There are so many encouraging and inspiring blogs out there. Some of them have nothing to do with crafting but I find that they put me in the right frame of mind. Positively Smitten has inspirational posts that are happy and help those creative juices to flow.
Step 3: Breathe some fresh air
As cheesy as this may sound, it is vital to me. I don’t live in the best neighborhood, but even sitting on my front porch with my coffee for five minutes improves my total productivity and creativity for the day. You could take your crafting stuff to a park and work there a while. If you are a writer, take your notepad or laptop out with you. I have a bag that is reserved just for packing a few things to work on in the park. If you have a park within walking distance, that is even better. Go for a walk, take your dog to the park, sit outside to eat your lunch. Just get out there and breath some fresh, unfiltered air. Spring is an exceptionally good time for that. Open a window if it is raining and listen, breathe in, and smell the rain. It is awesome!
Step 4: Pinterest
Now, this is not a license to copy every idea you see from Pinterest, but it is a great place to be inspired. If you just can’t seem to get in the crafting mood, go there. Check it out. It is full of great ideas and tons of resources for the cleverly crafty mind. I love to discover new pinners that inspire and new boards to follow. When I have a blogging topic that I want to work on, I usually make a board to go with it. And don’t forget to pin those blog posts that you find inspiring.
Step 5: A clean workspace
Alright, so I am the worst about this. I literally have fabric, buttons, beads, and every other crafty implement to be imagined everywhere in my house. Granted, most of it is semi-organized, but my sewing station needs to be put back into a semblance order. Having a clean, organized, crafting space is a must. I know that I am much more inclined to make something new if I don’t feel I have to dread the clean-up process from 10 old projects. Don’t let that stuff pile up! If you just can’t finish right now, have a place to put the projects that you are working on. If you have a ton of drafts of blog posts just waiting to be finish, prioritize and finish. Get help with one of the tons of blog calendars out there. I am starting the planning out process more firmly now, and I love having an idea of what I want to write about weeks in advance.
Step 6: Try something new or finish something old
These may sound like conflicting ends of the spectrum but hear me out. The most satisfying feeling in the world is to actually complete a project every time I set it aside and come back to it. When I am stuck, I find that trying something new is great for inspiring me to do things that I might not otherwise do with the crafting mediums I normally use. Go try a different coffee than you normally drink or write on a topic that you don’t normally write on or go someplace that you have never been in your familiar hometown. Try out that new restaurant or go to a different grocery store. Just get out of your comfort zone. Watch a movie that you originally wrote off as being terrible. Try a new author. If you don’t like it then you can always go back to the old favorites.
Step 7: Listen to music
Listen to your old favorites or try out a new Pandora or YouTube playlist. Music is such a great inspirational tool. When I get in a funk there is nothing better than singing at the top of my lungs something horribly, terribly awful. It’s great. Sing in the shower. Sing in the rain. Sing in your car. Just listen to something funky and get inspired.
Step 8: Spend some time with wee ones
Children are by far the most inspirational beings that you could ever come across. They don’t have the filters that we develop as we age. They say what they mean. They will tell you when something is beautiful or ugly or just plain boring. Kids really are an inspiration. They see the world through lenses that we cannot. Adults are jaded. We have been disappointed and learned to be afraid to be ourselves. Most kids don’t know how to be anything but themselves. That is one of the most awesome creative things that we can be! Just be yourself.
Step 9: Carry a notebook
I have a little notebook that I carry everywhere to jot down the ideas for blog posts or draw out embroidery ideas or whatever comes to mind before I forget it. This is a very convenient and easy way to stay creative. I’m sure that you have been at work or the grocery store or even just out running errands and had a truly awesome idea, only to forget it by the time you make it home again. Write all of that stuff down. Your creative genius should be heard.
Step 10: Surround yourself with creative people
I never feel more creative than when I’m sitting in a local coffee shop with a bunch of other people working on writing, or making, or creating something. I think that is the appeal of Starbucks or small-town coffee shops. They are cozy, there are couches and hang out spots that countless people before you have been inspired in. When I am sitting in the cabin with my other Idyll-Wilde co-workers hand stitching, or sewing on tags, or buttons, or embroidery, we talk about ideas and life, which inspires me. If you don’t have creative friends then you have to go out and find some. If you do have creative friends, don’t be intimated by them, try and learn from them. Surely they know how to do something that you would like to be able to do, and I am willing to bet that you know how to do something that they would love to learn. I was just properly instructed on how to load a bobbin by someone who is so much better at sewing than me, but instead of thinking I was silly, she was happy to help me learn. The best crafty people want to share that with others, and in knowledge sharing we feed off of each other’s creativity and come up with the best ideas. I don’t personally know any other bloggers, but I can only imagine how neat it would be to have a friend who loved this as much as I did to bounce ideas off of.
What steps do you take to unleash you inner creative genius? What do you do when you are feeling creative or to work up to a day of crafting, writing, blogging, sewing, or other creative endeavor?
About Jessie Stracener:
Jessie is a happily married 24-year-old woman living in the heart of the south. By day she works primarily with children or doing some sort of clerical work. She’s an ace with Excel spreadsheets and bandaging “boo boos”. She’s had nearly every job you could think of and has enjoyed most of them, from working in a microbiology lab and music studio to being a birthday clown and tutor. She loves to sew, cross stitch, embroider, work with beads and wire to make awesome trees. She also loves to read and cook when she has the time. She wants her blog, The Creative Ginger Tree, to reflect all of those things.
Photo credit: Zlyoga