A Week Of Activities To Break Creative Block

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Week Of Activities To Break Creative Block

If you don’t feel creative today, sort your beads, clean your workshop, or rearrange your books. 

But on day two, sit down and sketch.  It doesn’t have to be something you’re going to end up making… just sketch.  Doodle, zentangle, anything.  Write words if they come to your mind, too.  None of this has to be jewelry design related.  You’re just practicing the relationship between your hand, your pencil, and your paper.   Your brain doesn’t have to be overly involved.  Today should be about fun, not work.

On day three, relax.  But didn’t we just do that?  Grab some of your favorite craft or technique books and read.  Just look at the photos and see how you feel about them.   Keep a sketch book by your side and trust me, the ideas will come.  You will see things or read things that will inspire you.  Whether it’s an actual design you can sketch out or just a note that starts out with “what if”.  

A couple of my favorite books when I need to take a brain break:

  • Landmarks of the World’s Art: Prehistoric and Primitive Man (by Andreas Lommel)
  • Jewellery: The Intelligent Layman's Book (by Jack Ogden)
  • Narrative Art (edited by Hess and Ashbery)


On day four, realize that being creative doesn’t always mean you have to be wildly innovative or ground-breaking.  That kind of thinking can stop a designer cold in their tracks.  Frozen with fear. 

Stop.  Take a step back and do some rote technique all day long.  Set up your soldering station and fuse some silver rings… over and over… make necklace after necklace.  By the end of the day, your fusing or soldering skills should be wildly better than they were in the morning.   Remember “wax on, wax off”?  That’s what we’re doing.  You can also do wire-wraps or torch some beads or do some chain maille or simple enameling… anything that needs a bit of improvement in your skill-set, but nothing that’s so complicated it will be a big stress for you.

On all of these days, set a timer to limit your time on the computer.  Social media can be fantastic for our jewelry business, but in the wrong hands (or for the wrong reasons) it can also be a huge time vacuum, sucking up hours and hours of potentially creative design time.

On day five, shake up your routine.  Take the day off and go exploring.  Drive on a road you’ve never driven on before.  Go to a park and hike where you’ve never been before.  A museum, a zoo, a bike trail… any place you’ve never been before.  If you’re really brave, talk to strangers too.  Just be in the moment and notice what’s around you.  You want to fill your senses with new experience.  Let your brain know it’s not in a rut.

Also, I think one of the most important things you can do is keep a notebook with you at all times.  Write down all those ideas that you’re SURE you’ll remember.  ‘Cause you know what?  We don’t.  We don’t remember lines we saw that made us think of a necklace design or the color combination on that tv ad that made us think of a bead idea.  Write down everything.  And then when you think you have no creative ideas, go to your notebook and remind yourself about all these wonderful things you thought of and can now do.

On day six, search the internet and download a project/tutorial that looks interesting.  Make sure you have the materials on-hand and then go at it.  Don’t download one that you won’t be able to do that same day.  Or open a jewelry making book you have at home that includes a project you can do that day.  Sometimes following someone else’s instructions takes a load of pressure off of us and gives our brains the time to relax and begin thinking again of ideas for us.

On day seven, commit to blogging or sharing on social media on a regular basis.  Pick a project and just start babbling about it (with photos!).  Other jewelry makers love to read about what we’re all up to.  We want to see how it’s done and what you tried and what worked for you and what didn’t work for you.  One of my most popular blog posts is about the day that I tried to learn how to fuse fine silver.  There are tons of videos and tutorials online from people who already knew what they were doing, but a lot of people really enjoy seeing it through the eyes of the explorer.  And sometimes the explorer shares something that a master might not think to mention. 

Also, if you’re interested, here are three Facebook pages that I either run or admin that are excellent for sharing your experiences as well as getting inspiration:

So that’s one week where you don’t have to agonize over your creative block.  And hopefully, something in that week will spark your ignition.

Will this jumpstart week work for everyone?  I should think not since we’re all wired differently.  But you never know until you try.

Report back here.  I’d love to hear how things went for you.



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