Over the past few months, I’ve spent much of my time with crafting supplies in hand. Whether it’s with an embroidery needle and thread or a crochet hook and yarn, I nearly always have at least one project in the works. From embroidering a colorful finch to crocheting small pumpkins to decorate for autumn, I’ve made a lot of things over the past eight months that I’m really proud of.
I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t lulls in my creative productivity, though. Especially after finishing a long, detailed project, I lose motivation. Sometimes it’s for a day or two, sometimes a week or more.
Luckily, as I’ve continued on, my motivation has steadied and the time between projects has become shorter. Here are some tips for keeping up creativity in quarantine that I’ve learned from my crafting adventures.
Layer it into your routine
One of the best parts of my creative hobbies? Once you learn the basics, you can crochet and embroider while you watch TV or video chat with friends. No need to build in extra crafting time. I’m the type of person that has a hard time paying attention to TV shows and movies if my hands are idle. Crafting while watching TV means that I spend less time on my phone AND that I get to be productive by changing practically nothing about my routine.
Maybe you don’t spend as much time watching TV as I do. That’s fair and, probably, healthier. You can still work creativity into your everyday routine. By consciously making small decisions that change up your day, you’re inserting creativity into your life. Maybe this is volunteering to write a blog for work, maybe it’s trying a new mix of spices on your dinner, or maybe it’s changing up the path that you take when you walk your dog. Take advantage of the small, creative changes that you can make to your day.
It’s okay to skip a day (or week)
Of course, some days I don’t craft. I give my hook and needle a break and just binge TV while scrolling through my phone, go to bed early, annoy my pets instead… you get the picture.
The point is, taking time off is okay, beneficial even. You never want to push yourself so hard that a once enjoyable creative task becomes loathsome. Taking a break gives you the chance to reset, recharge, and focus on something else. It can give you the opportunity to actually miss being creative. After all, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
But you shouldn’t wait for creativity to strike either – otherwise you’ll be decades into a project with no end in sight and millions of disappointed fans whose hope for any type of conclusion is dwindling away (looking at you George R. R. Martin).
Okay, so maybe your situation won’t be quite as extreme, but creativity IS something that you have to foster. So, take a break, give yourself time to breathe, and jump back into your creative endeavor the next day (or week).
When I start a project with a specific person in mind as the end recipient, I’m significantly more motivated to finish it. Since it’s the holiday season, my last few projects have been gifts: a sweater, a Baby Yoda amigurumi, and a crocheted garland of Christmas trees. Next on my list are socks and an embroidered pig design. Knowing (or hoping) that someone else will get joy from my projects drives me to create while stretching my crafting repertoire.
Another way to involve other people is through a socially distanced creative collaboration. This could be organizing a Zoom call to all paint at the same time or using a Google Doc to write a short story together. It could be starting a drawing that you mail to someone else to have them finish or recording a podcast with someone outside your COVID bubble. Working with others keeps creativity fresh and fun.
A bonus way to involve others is to buy supplies from small businesses. By buying supplies from local shops or independent sellers on Etsy, you’re helping keep these sellers afloat during tough financial times.
Wherever you find creativity, remember…
No two people are creative in the same way. No one piece of advice will help everyone stay creative.
So, try to sprinkle creativity on top of your everyday life if you can’t find time otherwise, take a break if you’re losing steam, and involve others if you feel stuck.
It’s okay if these tips don’t work for you. Find what does, go from there, and create!
For more thoughts on keeping creative in tough times, check out our SoGoSeries on the topic.