Playful brush strokes

When Being called “Easy” is a Compliment

I’m talking to YOU creativity!

Okay, I get it! That might have been a really weird way to start, but I needed to get your attention!

We’re making some really cool creative things happen around here and I need you to be aware:

Creativity may not arrive “on demand…”

Shocker – I know! But – Yeah – Sometimes, creativity doesn’t arrive wrapped up in a neat little bow!

It’s more like a cat—sometimes it comes when called but often, it has a mind of its own. If you’ve ever sat down to design and felt the daunting weight of a blank page staring back at you, you’re not alone.

That’s why I have ProTip #2: Be aware that creativity may not arrive “on demand…”

I experience this often and it requires a slight mindset shift.

Creative blocks are the uninvited guests of the artistic process. You set up your workspace, lay out your tools, and wait for the rush of inspiration – aaaaand – nothin’. Not a #$@% thing! The cursor blinks; the paintbrush stands perfectly upright in the cup; your sewing machine seems to be waiting for you to make the first move. This is a common plight for artists, writers and yes, even us designers and patternmakers.

Often, I’ll arrive at my table and find myself staring at that piece of paper, that pile of tools, or that piece of fabric for what seems like an eternity. My mind goes blank, and I’ll get the urge to get up, have more coffee, or fold the laundry.

I know this might happen, so I have some tricks that help me stick with it and get the creative juices flowing.

The key isn’t to force creativity. It’s more like coaxing it into the light. I’ve found that a slight shift in mindset can bridge the gap between stagnation and flow. Recognize that creativity might need a nudge or a playful invitation to come out and join the party. It’s about making the first move! OK, technically two moves, but who’s counting?

Here they are: Show up and Stay there.

1. Play with Your Tools

When creativity is playing hard to get, I turn to my trusty trick… I play with my art supplies. Yup – it’s as simple as that! I show up anyway!

I play with my materials without a clear goal in mind. For patternmakers, this could mean draping fabric on a mannequin just to see how it falls or sketching random shapes and lines with your tools. For artists it could be mixing a few coordinating paint colors on a piece of paper or simply making marks with various pens and pencils. Just getting my hands moving really helps me! This tactile interaction can spark ideas and lead to unexpected breakthroughs. The act of engaging with your materials can shift your mental gears from idle to creative. Just getting your hands moving can be a big help!

2. Stay Put!

It’s tempting to walk away when things aren’t clicking—maybe another coffee will help, or perhaps a quick email check? Nope…Nope…I know what I’ll do – that dresser needs dusting! It must be done and it must be done NOW! Honestly, Virginia?? 

All this to say – there’s immense power in simply staying put. Challenge yourself to remain at your workspace for a predetermined period. More often than not, the act of staying there and giving yourself space to think is enough to invite inspiration in.

Here are some Practical Tips –

Set a timer: Commit to being “creative” for just 10 minutes. Fake it ‘til you make it! Often, the barrier is starting, not the act of creating. Choose a time that works for you – 15 minutes, 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Just commit to staying there for a bit to allow your creative partner in time to show up too!

Create a ritual: Begin each session by arranging your tools or playing certain music. Rituals signal to your brain that it’s time to create. I can attest to this one. If you need a little help in this area, go HERE. You can get my free DIY Creative Ritual Kit to help you get started.

Keep a swipe file: OK, “Swipe file,” “Idea book,” “Massive Pinterest board,” – whatever you want to use is fine! Just do it! Author Jon Acuff says he doesn’t believe in “writer’s block” or “creative block.” Instead, he believes it’s “idea bankruptcy.” With that in mind, collect images, fabric swatches, or designs that inspire you. When stuck, flip through your collection for a spark.

Creativity might not always be “easy,” but with a few playful strategies, you can often coax it out of hiding. Remember, the journey from idea to tangible creation is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes it’s a little slow to start, but once it happens, you’ll find yourself moving in sync with your creative spirit. So, the next time you find yourself hanging out alone at the worktable, stood-up once again by your creative date, stay put for a little while. Give it time to show up and blossom.

Stay curious, stay playful, and most importantly, stay creating. If you have your own tricks to kickstart creativity, share them in the comments below or join us in our community where we dive deep into the art and soul of patternmaking.


Join the upcoming Free webinar series: “The Patternmaking Journey-Patterns, Personal Style & maybe even Profits.” It’s free, open to all, and starts May 23, 2024! Go HERE to join.

Check out all the other goodies happening at the studio HERE.