When Craft Holds You Back. I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately and found, like I usually do, that writing it down in my note book in a quiet cafe helped me put some tangled thoughts into perspective. This subject is very close to my heart at the moment and perhaps some of you will have had similar ideas and feeling too. I am defiantly in an exciting/scary time of creative change within my business and life – and that is ongoing- so as part of a series of more reflective/creative business orientated articles I thought it was important to share and reflect!
For me it really began to become a noticeable thing/dilemma a few months back when I just couldn’t come up with a new craft DIY for the blog. I made lists of projects that fit with relevant seasonal themes and that might work on Craftgawker etc as was my usual routine… but when it came to actually creating the project, photographing and editing, I felt lacklustre and uninspired. And I felt disappointed in the end product, like it wasn’t a representation of my skills, taste or even my creative ethics. As we all know these projects take a lot of time and effort to create, shoot and edit. This repetitive process began to suck the joy out of the making/creative side of each new project idea. This quickly became a recurring feeling which I couldn’t put to one side anymore because I was avoiding doing the thing my business was largley all about… making things/projects with my hands and sharing the skills and joy with others.
I think this is when I first realised that for me ‘craft/crafting’ had become a set of limitations and was kind of restricting my creativity. And that social media was playing a huge part in extinguishing my inspiration.
Shock/horror. Queue some serious anxiety and a fear that I had A) lost all personal style and skill, and B) might not ever be able to create another craft project for the blog or even workshop that I felt happy/proud of again C) that weighty feeling of impostor syndrome.
I decided to take a step back and put all craft projects (not commission work) on hold until I could figure out why I had lost my creative mojo and how I might find it again. Or at lease find a version that fit with where I am in my life/business now…
What has come to light is quite simple to see now… definitely part of an ongoing creative development and by no means down to one thing along. Like I said, simple right!?
1, My passion project has become work/job and therefore my down time which was usually spent crafting felt like work. Which meant no distinction between work and play, more pressure from myself to achieve certain things and be constantly creating new content.
2, The curse of social media and the negative impact that spending too much time looking at beautiful instagram feeds belonging to peers and friends can have. More often than not we compare and criticise ourselves, even without noticing we are doing it, way to harshly. (There is a whole other article here on the inner critic which I may come to later).
3, This aversion to what I am now calling ‘fast craft’ projects coincided with ideas about what my business is about and what I want to be known for changing and shifting into new and different territory. Fears about re positioning myself as a craft based creative and wanting my projects to have more long term meaning/use and interest.
‘don’t compare your real life to someone else’s show reel.’
By focusing on ‘fast craft’ in my online projects I’d kind of lost sight of how and why ‘crafting’ brings me joy largely by focusing on the end point. Creativity can be found in everything not just yarn, fabric and felt based projects. For me creativity is inherent in all parts of my life. And it largely comes down to making things with my hands. Cooking & baking, gardening, writing letters, repairing or altering a piece of clothing, making a good cup of tea, imagining a new project, writing a list.
But the most important part of craft and also creativity is the messy, tangled middle ground when we are actually doing the thing we love… not just the end product. And as is often the case with social media and a lot of the projects I myself have whipped up for the blog and also commission work, we only see a polished finished product and a set of curated step’s to achieving that project. That’s not to say they are of less value but are in an area that perhaps I am moving away from naturally.
Reconnecting with craft and creativity
So I decided to take it back to basics… replacing the verb to craft and this new self defined area of my business/creative life ‘fast craft’ with creativity in order to take back my passion for making and see where that takes me. Zooming out to look at the broader picture, the why not just the what and to try to reconnect with the joy of creating fun quicker projects but also to create content that is more authentic/genuinely me and feels valuable again.
‘Craft’ often gets a bad rep for being cutesy, pointless and not related to traditional ideas of craftsmanship. I want to find a middle ground.
Here’s some small activities i’ve been trying out – and will continue doing in small steps – to get back to more frequent joyful crafting practices… and also to help me move my style, projects and ideas/business forward. Some of these things might also be of help when you get in a rut too.
Try some of these…
Take a step back, write down 10 things you enjoy doing, creative or otherwise. Keep that list close at hand and read over when you feel like you’ve lost your motivation. This may help you keep on track and find more clarity when choosing new projects/commitments.
Take a break from social media – or at least limit your use for a while. Break the habit and use it as a useful tool again. Try taking the main apps off your home screen or creating a separate folder. I have removed FB from my phone and try to post on IG max twice a day. I have also stopped looking at my phone in bed when I wake up, now I try and wait until I have made a tea and am sitting on the sofa. I have also turned any sound notifications to silent… don’t let FOMO stop you from actually doing something fun with your own real time!
Sketch it out – grab a note book and a pen and scribble down an idea. Jot a list with it and develop your ideas in paper instead of on a screen or pinterest. Draw out a wonky picture. This is the fun part and no one has to see how messy it looks! Be messy with it! Its all part of creating something new!
Try something different/new or pick up an old hobby. This can be a crafty project or something unrelated.
Try using up old scraps or making something with no plan! Again, no one needs to see this project or hobby it should be all about you having fun and being in the moment! You don’t even need to finish it… there is no pressure.
Make something as a gift – Put some love into the item you are making, it might not be craftgawker worthy but the person receiving it will be totally thrilled that you spent the time on them. You could even start trying out christmas or birthday cards for family and friends! Collaging is super fun or make something different like some chutney? Just keep it simple.
Read a book, listen to an album from your uni days, do nothing… remember switching off is good too!
Getting back to craft…
Yarn bomb – Create a small snippet or sample of crochet, embroidery or knitting and take it to the streets! Add a simple positive message like ‘have a nice day’ or ‘you are loved’ pop it on a paper tag and attach your wonky creation to a lamp post or tree branch for a passer by to find. Again you could just use a scrap from a past creative project which needs nothing extra doing to it.
Join a craft social or local meet up or even get a few friends together at home and work on a creative project together! (see xmas gifts or yarn bombing for inspiration)
De clutter your materials stash – I am a prime culprit for hanging onto tiny snippets of fabric, yarn and beads. But having a good clear out makes space for new ideas and you might also find inspiration along the way as you come across a half finished project or even craft book you had ‘lost’.
Once you’ve de cluttered you cold organise a craft swap with friends and peers. Though i’d advise trying to only bring one new thing home otherwise your hard work will be undone!
Why are all these activities a good idea? Well, they help us reconnect with ourselves and others on a more personal/in person way. Perhaps this idea of redefining craft and creativity can also help you in smaller ways too such as…
slowing down the pace
less screen time
updating your style and ideas about what is available
make, do and mend
authenticity over originality – moving your thoughts and style forward.
This is a great article to read for some more actionable things to try when it comes to social media.
To end this first post on a positive note i’d say that although creatively this past few months have been more difficult and felt less productive, and stressful at times they have also been amazing because space has now been made for me to explore new ideas, projects to grow into. I can see and feel that this is most definitely an ongoing evolution of ideas, projects and minor freak outs… I am excited to see where my next steps take me.