Oh, creativity. You are an elusive thing. Some of us think we have it. Some of us think we don’t. But if you ask people what creativity actually is you’ll find it’s a difficult question to answer. You can’t pin it down to a certain craft or skill. It doesn’t mean you have a specific talent in an area, or that you’re brimming with ideas 24/7. I personally feel we are all equally creative… I can see the tumbleweed now. But I’m serious. To me, creativity means the desire to create something. Anything. Be it a novel, a woven wall hanging or a three-course meal. It could be a beautiful garden, an amazing hairstyle or a piece of music. The list is never ending. And you don’t even need to know how to do it yet. You just have to want to. Now tell me you’re not creative again. Go on, I dare you!
I know what you’re thinking. If we’re all equally creative then why does it come easier to some than others? Why is it that sometimes the ideas or skills to fulfil your creative desires just don’t seem to happen? We all know that one creative person that always has the best ideas and is always busy creating something wonderful, but what we don’t get to see is the process that years of work that have built up to. We don’t see their moments of self-doubt or watch them struggle with their own creative blocks.
Creativity is something that when practiced becomes easier and less of a mystery. Finding your own creative outlet can be difficult and the idea of perfecting a skill can seem much more romantic than the nitty gritty realism it takes to make it happen. We block out that little voice reminding us that it’s probably going to take hard work, dedication and hours/days/weeks/months/years to become happy with the outcome. Sometimes crafters block can come from unrealistic expectations. The frustration of not being able to get somewhere quick enough. New skills need to be learnt and being ‘creative’ is not enough to have it down without putting in the hours.
Other times creative block comes from our own poor decisions. Now, I’m no stranger to the downward spiral of bad creative decisions. I know how frustrating scary it can be to lose your creative flow. It seems to disappear at the most importantmoments, when you need it most. You need to make a gift for a friend or family special occasion. Or perhaps you have a commission or you’re gettingstock ready for the biggest craft fair of the year. Weeks go by. You might look like a swan coasting through each disappointing outcome, but underneath the calm exterior your legs are flailing about in a panicked state. “Have I lost it?” “Did I ever have it to begin with?” “What on earth is “it” anyway!?”
In order to successfully manage expectations it helps to look more closely at the creative process. Stop asking yourself about this mysterious ‘it’ and start asking yourself for a few honest answers. “Where did I go wrong?” What do I need to do/have/learn to work this out?” Inspiration does not hit you. You have to go out and actively find that stuff! You need a tool you don’t have? Research how you can get your hands on it. Be productive in overcoming powering through the block. It’s easy to assume that the latest piece by that talented maker had been whipped up out of thin air on a spur of the moment whim, when in fact it’s a lifetime of trial, error and productively improving going into it.
I look at each and every one of my projects through a critical eye. Even successful pieces can be improved upon. This is what makes the creative process both never ending and also consistently exciting and fulfilling. It’s important to embrace this aspect of creativity because you need to make these mistakes to allow your individual development and improvement. Another person will have different failures and will have alternative experiences that lead them down an entirely different path. I have been talking about this o LOT recently (sorry if you’re getting bored of hearing about it…) and even created a DIY tutorial on this very aspect of creativity.
Embrace your own mistakes as your own individual learning curve and see them not as failures but as an opportunity to improve. When you do you will be free from crafters block and ready to take on the world.