Refueling Creativity by Letting Go

stitcharama_thrift_store_embroidery

Try sitting down with your art/craft supply of choice and just starting. No idea in your mind of what you’re making, no vision beyond the stitch you’re stitching or the line you’re painting or the wood you’re cutting. You have just one goal: enjoy the actual act of making.

It was harder to do than I thought it’d be.

I mean, I get it: I’m using my time and supplies and I want to make sure I end up with an object that’s beautiful and/or useful. And, like you, I’m always challenging myself to go further, learn new skills, make something cooler than I’ve ever made before.

And then add on top the pressure to make something that will help further business? That other people will love, too? Well, that’s kind of a lot of pressure!  It’s pretty hard for creativity to flow freely with all of those expectations – and when creativity ain’t happy ain’t no one happy.

This isn’t a new situation, really.  Anytime folks take what they love making and build a business around it – from Renaissance painters to modern-day ceramicists – the pure flow of creativity is tinged with the question (aka worry): “But will it sell?”

It’s so easy to do, when we turn our passion into our profession. And maybe you can relate: I can get so focused on the business of Stitcharama, I sometimes forget what the heart of Stitcharama is really about.

And when we forget the heart of things it’s too easy to find ourselves on autopilot. And while autopilot may be good for pizza delivery by drone, it certainly ain’t good for creativity… or a life of joyful crafting!

And if THAT wasn’t enough, here’s another knot in the thread: recent studies show that boredom is critical for fueling creativity (you can read about it here and here and here) – which is cool and all, but who among us ever really finds ourselves bored these days? Faced with a line or delay, we whip out our phones to deflect boredom and distract ourselves with, well, anything BUT boredom. Am I addicted to my phone? YES. So, turns out I’m actually hampering my creative flow with impulsive social media scrolling. Yarghhhhhh.

So I gave myself some time to sit, be bored and contemplate my crafty navel.

Why is crafting important to me?

My truth is pretty simple: I believe crafting opens a direct connection with our soul. Making things with our hands – because we want to, not because we have to – is the most pure magic I know.

Crafting supplies the opportunity to put our addictive digital devices down, and pick up our pretty patterns, needle and thread (or your supplies of choice). We get to sit with our own self, our friends, our families, our pets, a favorite movie on Netflix, the sun on our face or the campfire in front of us.

We get to unplug… and plug in.

So I decided to unplug from the spreadsheets, the statements, the business side of life and connect back in with the happy joy of Just Crafting- but how to do that when I feel such a push to improve my skills, learn a new stitch, try a new pattern, and choose perfect materials for a gorgeous finished product?

Clearly I needed to try to NOT improve my skills, NOT learn a new stitch, NOT USE A PATTERN (OMG) and, heck, you know what – I didn’t even want to choose my materials. So I headed to my favorite thrift store and made a beeline to the craft supplies section (cute sweaters I don’t seeeee youuuuu) wherein I picked up a giant bag full of totally random yarn and a piece of awesome fabric with a BIG weave, then headed home to stare at them. 

It was harder to LET THE HECK GO than I thought it would be. Once I put that fabric into my hoop I was all like, “but what should I dooooo? What should I makeeeee? What colors should I useeeeee? This is gonna be ugly, let me try to plan it out, how can I make it awesome?”

I picked 4 colors from the yarn bag, and put the rest aside.

I stopped my brain from overthinking and made myself start. My rule was that I could only think about the element I was about to stitch, and not any further ahead than that. So I stopped myself from trying to plan out a design, or imagining in advance how elements would work with each other. Was it gonna be ugly? Possibly. I made myself not care.

I stitched a diagonal line. I didn’t really love that line (where was it going? what did it mean? what was the purpose of that line and what would I DO with that line?) but I left it and moved on.

I embroidered a box, with boxes around it. I didn’t love that box. I wasn’t sure why I stitched a box. How was that box going to work in the scheme of things? But I left that box there and kept stitching.

Colors! Stitches! Shapes! began to emerge… I heard Judgy McJudgerson in my head but shushed her up. And  I found my flow. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I got lost in the flow of crafting. It felt amazing. Before I knew it, it was 3:30am (seriously) and I wasn’t finished but I made myself go to sleep. And in the morning I woke up and headed right back to my hoop.

I was consciously trying to NOT make a beautiful thing, but if a beautiful thing emerged that would be fine.
I was trying to let go, and let a thing become whatever it wanted to become.

And THIS is what happened:

(yep, that’s me on ukulele too 🙂

I LOVE the finished piece! It’s not any kind of perfect… which makes it perfect. It doesn’t mean anything, which makes it mean everything.

And as I sit here typing… I am ITCHING to get back to my hoop and start on my next piece of meditative embroidery!

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