Monday, June 27, 2016

When Creativity Hurts

When Creativity Hurts by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Even in the world of sewing, things don’t always go the way we plan. Sometimes my biggest struggles have nothing to do with the tools I'm using and everything to do with the emotions involved in the creative process. Here are the four biggest roadblocks I face and how I deal with them:

1. Criticism: There are few things so painful as criticism. It occasionally comes from those we know in person, but so often these days it hits hardest online, especially through the fickle world of social media and anonymous comments. When people criticize your work -- be it a project, a blog post, a pattern or book -- step back and take a deep breath before responding...if you must respond at all. Ask yourself if the criticism is valid. If it is, learn from it and move on. If it isn't, work through the emotions of the moment and then let it go. People say all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, and their issues don't change who you are and why you do what you do. Take the advice of the people who matter in your life and leave the rest alone.

2. Comparison: No matter how long you’ve been sewing or how good you are at it, there’s someone out there who’s been doing it longer or “better” than you. Make peace with it and don't let it discourage you. Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you spend all your time trying to keep up with everyone else, you’re missing the point. You can appreciate the talents of others without feeling bad about your own skills. Gain inspiration and knowledge where you can and keep making what you love.

3. Perfectionism: As a perfectionist myself, I have a lot of understanding for those who struggle to get each project exactly right. It’s so easy to praise each other’s work and downplay the flaws, but oh, how we struggle to do the same with our own projects. Give yourself the same grace that you would share with a friend, practice where you need to, and let go of your mistakes. Someone reminded me once that so-called "perfect" work is done entirely by machines, while the little imperfections in our projects show that they were created by human hands. There can be beauty even in our limitations. 

4. Stagnation: There will come a day (if it hasn’t already) when you sit down at your sewing machine, look at your fabric, pick up the project you’ve been working on...and feel no desire whatsoever to sew. It can be a little unsettling when the thing that brought you so much happiness suddenly seems difficult, burdensome, or just plain blah. Don’t let it throw you. Any hobby can get a little stale after a while, even sewing. Sometimes the best thing to do is step away from it for a few days or even indulge in another favorite past time for a week or two. Odds are pretty good that when you walk back to that sewing table after a break, you’ll be refreshed and ready to start creating again.

The most important thing to remember when facing any of these issues is that you're not the only one. We all deal with frustrations, hurts, and disappointments in our creative work at one time or another. They’re not the end of the world, and they won’t steal your joy unless you let them. Don’t ever let them. Be who you are and love what you make. It's always the best way to go.

41 comments:

  1. Good post! I like your blog!πŸ‘πŸΌ

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  2. Such a great post. As a recovering perfectionist, I'm embracing "better done than perfect." It doesn't mean I don't aim for some mighty fine points, but sometimes the fast option is simply the better one.

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  3. I also believe in walking away from a project and taking a break, totally helps

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  4. Don't let others get to you with their negativity. There are no quilt police, just unhappy people who like to pick at others.

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  5. I find when I don't feel like sewing just making a bee block gets me back into it. Something small that gives that satisfaction boost gives me that lift again!

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  6. I find when I don't feel like sewing just making a bee block gets me back into it. Something small that gives that satisfaction boost gives me that lift again!

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  7. Wise words Heidi, now if we can remember to follow them! I love the walk away for a few days or weeks it does help gain perspective and new inspiration ( that can apply to social media too lol)

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  8. I alternate sewing between knitting, crochet and gardening. Sometimes I even do a bit of housework, not too often mind I would hate to get bored with it. I am my own worst critic so what ever anyone else says goes straight out the window. I craft for pleasure not to rival a machine.

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  9. This is a great post and I can't help but wonder who's comment prompted it. As my mother always taught me to not say anything at all if you can't say something nice.

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  10. Well put. I myself am one that is critical of my own work but when someone else has something negative to comment it cuts deep. Having a thick skin and not letting someone steal your joy is the key. Remember the enjoyment that it brings to you.

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  11. excellent post. Thank you for writing it!

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  12. I encountered this post just when I needed it most. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Great post -- words we all need to hear from time to time. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. It is good to know we all face these issues! Thank you for putting it into words so lovingly!!

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  15. Thank you for sharing. Beautifully said!! I needed this!

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  16. Heidi, that is a beautiful quilt!!!!
    Thanks for the post. I can identify with all those issues. It's funny but I'm not a perfectionist in most ways but when I make something I turn into somebody else!! :) And I am ALWAYS my worst critic. Perfectionism can ruin the joy, at least for me it does.

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  17. I too think this is a great post.

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  18. First, thanks for the encouragement! I've been following you for a long time and love everything you make. You are always an inspiration! Also, the designer quilt is one of the coolest things I've seen! Your favorite designers are mine as well. :)

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  19. Thanks for a great post. Good reminders for us all.

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  20. Love this post. I struggle with comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate. I have been getting much better lately though at just being happy to be who I am and appreciating the beautiful work of others, more gifted than I am. God made us all to be exactly who we are, with different strengths and weaknesses. That was not a mistake.

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  21. I have commented before on your top stitching perfection - working on mine πŸ˜•. I keyed in on your loss of sewing mojo - I just finished a big project, and now I want to make some patriotic stuff, but I just can't get myself motivated and it's frustrating. I have turned to hand piecing and it's helping me. I never understand negative comments, maybe people just just realize how much they hurt.

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  22. Excellent post! All so true...I struggle with perfectionism, which makes me get sick of a project when it doesn't go "right." I am working on it! I was so proud that I made 6 beach bags for my sisters-in-law, MIL, an aunt, and my best friend for a recent beach trip. I let go of the tiny flaws (that I'm pretty sure no one noticed) and basked in the warmth of their appreciation. :-)

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  23. Great post! All of the points hit home with me, we are all a sisterhood of all things fabric and that does come with some downfalls. Mine are mainly self imposed. As for my comments to others, I feel it is my duty to encourage. I by all means have no place in our quilting world to be critizing anyone! Thank you for this post. It is nice to know that I am not alone!

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  24. What an insightful post! Thank you for taking the time and effort to share it. I thought I was the only one who occasionally feels this way...

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  25. Wonderful advice, every bit of it! Thank you! Your quilts are fabulous too!

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  26. Very well said. The whole works is so absolutely true. Sometimes I take a break by making something very simple, easy and quick. Sort of refreshes my confidence.
    I really love the quilt in this post. Great quilt and great photography. And I am not saying that just to be nice. I mean it.

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  27. I have that quote from Roosevelt on my sewing room wall! Right by the light switch where I can see it all the time.

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  28. What a fun quilt!!! I love the idea of the designer blocks: great idea!! And I guess we all hinder ourselves in our quilting: I tend to compare myself to other's, thinking "Why couldn't I have thought of that great idea?" Thanks for the pep talk!! I loved your quote about comparison robbing joy. And you do great work: don't let criticism get you: I firmly believe that if you can't compliment someone on their blog posts, then just don't leave a comment. Those who criticise are just very impolite and you need to remember that!! Then delete the comment!! You are being kind to share your projects on your blog and don't deserve to be critized! Just keep up your good work, because so many of us enjoy your talents!! Hugs, H

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  29. Great advice about asking yourself if the criticism is even valid, learning from it moving on. Thank you for sharing!

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  30. I love this post...thank you!

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  31. Thank you for the post, Heidi! We all have these things to work through it is nice to know we aren't alone.

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  32. One of the most powerful posts I've ever read. Thanks for your brave and encouraging words.

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  33. Thank you for this post - these are certainly words we (or at least I!) need to hear every so often. Saving this one for the next time I get discouraged or apathetic toward my projects.

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  34. Great post...lots of wisdom there! I think my life changed when someone said to me "if your friend were in that situation, what would you say to him/her?" We are so hard on ourselves and need to be kinder. I've noticed that people are way meaner on social media where they can be anonymous...

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  35. One of my favorite sayings is "Every professional was a beginner at some point". It helps me keep things in perspective. If the project I'm working on isn't perfect but I learned a new technique, that makes it ok with me. Practice makes perfect!

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  36. How much wisdom in your text! Gratitude.
    Your work , your blog and you are special

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  37. Thank you for your encouragement. It is nice to know I'm not alone in the struggle. My plan is to read your words daily.

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  38. Hey Heidi, You rock! At all times and with all the best kinds of creativity and soul. You are one of my heroes! Hugs!

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  39. This definitely rings true to me. Very important things to remember, but not always easy.
    I love what you do and please keep doing it :-) You are an inspiration.

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  40. Great advice! When I hit that stagnation point I pull out my folder of quick projects and a couple fat quarters (we all collect them) and whip up a project or two. This satisfies a couple things - I finish a project quickly, it's a fun project, and I give it away - all these bring the joy and fun and excitement right back. Love your blog!

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