|Overcoming Creative Block – All of these beaded wooden necklaces
began with one idea: “wood” And one technique: brainstorming.
Creative Block can be nasty. You’re sitting in front of a blank page/blank canvas/blank beading board with a blank look on your face. Then begins a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach accompanied by self-doubt, then the “I-feel-a-headache-coming-on” feeling followed by a mad dash for potato chips or ice cream or Twitter. Luckily, working through it is easier than it feels like it will be. Like with so many things, the hardest step is the first one, but once you get rolling, the creative rollercoaster will take over!
That’s what I’m here for today, to help you overcome creative blocks and get the rollercoaster rolling again! One of my favorite strategies for overcoming creative blocks is one I learned in my college ceramics class. Make 100 Things. No matter what creative pursuit of your’s has become blocked, this will help you. Write 100 poems, sculpt 100 sculptures, bead 100 necklaces, draw 100 cartoons. Seems impossible when you feel like you can’t even make one, right? Well, here’s where the playfulness comes in. This creative exercise isn’t about achieving something, it’s about letting go of something. You don’t have to make 100 award winning paintings, you just have to go go go as fast as you can and make 100 quick, seat-of-the-pants, anything-goes paintings! They can all be awful, it doesn’t matter!! Don’t try to imbue them with meaning, don’t try to do anything with them except to get them done.
I was introduced to this technique when I was beginning a new semester in my undergraduate study and was left to strike out on my own and see what art I could come up with. *eeek!* My art professor gave me the task of making 100 ceramic sculptures after our first critique. She wanted me to make 100 sculptures by next week. By next week?! Well, I didn’t get 100 out. I think I managed to make 80 or 90. They averaged about twice the size of my fist. When we had our next critique and they were all laid out together, we could see patterns, a direction. Ocean creatures. Funny, I wasn’t expecting that! Well, from there I went on to create a whole semester’s worth of 4 foot tall ceramic ocean creatures. Colorful, fun to make, they filled me with wonder. The roller-coaster was rolling again!
After college, I had another period of creative block that lasted until I began making my natural stone, gemstone, wood and pearl jewelry.
The roller coaster was kicked back into high gear when I just started playing at creating as many different jewelry designs I could come up with using the few materials I had on hand, including my own, home grown job’s tears beads
which started the whole adventure for me. I’ve been asked by so many people if I’m ever afraid that I’ll run out of ideas for my handmade beaded jewelry
and my answer is always a moment of surprise followed by an emphatic “Never!” (Ask if I’m ever afraid of being able to find time to make everything I want to or of being able to get it all sold in a timely manner and the answer would be less self-assured, but I’m getting better at those things, too!)
Just now, I’m working on creating a proliferation of wooden jewelry designs. Here, over the span of a weekend, is what I’ve come up with using my “Make 100 Things” technique. I’ve gotten up to 66 (if I count correctly!) and I’ll admit, they aren’t all winners. But I see at least 20 that I’m going to make right away! The simple act of sitting down and playing with all the wooden beads I have on hand has given me a familiarity with the new materials. I “know” them in a deeper way now and coming up with creative and beautiful ways to combine them will be a lot easier now!
I hope this technique for overcoming creative block
will be as helpful for all of you as it has been for me! Until next time, happy creating
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