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Jump Start Your Creativity

I heard from a number of readers after they viewed Elizabeth Gilbert’s lecture from the 2009 TED Conference entitled A diferent way to think about creative genius.” I like the concept that we all “have” genius in us. I loved that when she was having a difficult time writing, she took time and just spoke out to the corner, to let genius come to her; and if it didn’t, well, she showed up for her part of the job.

I’m sure you’ve had times where you’ve showed up for the job but been blocked creatively, whether it’s from pressures, fears, uncertainties or something else. Here are six ideas to jump start your creative juices:

  1. Fill the well. Look at other art, either surfing the Internet or visiting galleries. Go on an artist’s date, a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. And, be sure to step outside the quilt realm. Sometimes looking at other art is allit takes to get a new idea.
  2. Set a challenge or goal for yourself. I think the journal quilt idea is a great one here. Challenge yourself to create something small each day or week. Pick a theme. When I did the monthly journals, mine were all pears. Or focus on a particular bit of nature in your yard and follow it through the year. And, move outside your comfort zone. If traditional piecework is your thing, grab some paint sticks and let lose. If you are an art quilter, try a pieced block for a change.
  3. Create a daily ritual. Twyla Tharp writes about this idea in The Creative Habit. The daily ritual becomes so ingrained that it sets the pace for your day. She says, “It’s Pavlovian: follow the routine, get a creative payoff.” I liked her example of the chef who starts each day by tending the garden on the terrace of his Brooklyn home. This creative environment lets him putter, pick veggies or herbs, think about flavors. At this point, he heads off to the restaurant to begin creating. For me, I have a ritual of walking each weekday. The fresh air gets me going. What is your ritual?
  4. Take a class to learn a new skill. This could be a photography class, a water color painting class, a cooking class, acomputer class. Just being creative in some other area will translate into your quilt work.
  5. Keep an idea journal, if you don’t already. Fill it with things that inspire you from in and outside the quilt world. When you’re blocked, leave your studio and pull out your idea journal. Ideas will surface.
  6. Act as if you don’t have any blocks and then just jump in. One idea will lead to another. Remember that every piece of art you create doesn’t have to be perfect. One of the quotes I have tacked on my wall is “progress, not perfection.” If I waited for everything to be perfect, I’d still be waiting.

Here are two favorite quotes on creativity:

“In creating, the only hard thing’s to begin; A grass blade’s no easier to make than an oak.” James Russell Lowell

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Rather ask, What makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” Howard Thurman

So, get creating. Allah, Olé, Bravo!

The Winter issue of The Professional Quilter includes articles to help you grow your quilt business. If your subscription is not current and you need to renew, or you want to start a new subscription, here’s a link to our order page.

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