Recently I was reading a lampwork forum where a fellow glass bead-maker had found herself in a creative slump. It got me thinking about my own creative process and how to get past those times when you just can’t seem to find your muse, or you have work that needs to be done (orders to fill, new content to keep your store fresh, etc) and you just are not feeling it (or maybe even *dreading* it).
Anyway, I got thinking about some of the ways I get myself going when I’m having one of those days. Some of them are sort of lampwork-specific, but I think mostly they would translate well to other mediums.
1. Clean up your space! I clean my work area or reorganize my materials. It almost always gets me in the mood to create something and even if it doesn’t, the space is wonderful to return to next time.
2. Don’t stress about results. I often will just sit down at the torch and tell myself I don’t have to be super productive today, just sit down for a half hour or an hour and see what comes out. Usually I end up getting lots done when I don’t feel the pressure to perform. I find a groove and go with it. And if I don’t, I give myself permission to stop for the day. No big deal.
3. Go back to the basics. Sometimes I try to just focus on one technique or style of beads, and just make a whole bunch like that in different colours. That way I can sort of turn my brain off and not try to come up with different ideas. I sometimes find that I actually have too many competing ideas and I get overwhelmed by that. It’s like aaaah I could never make all those beads at once! So I try to focus my brain in one on type of bead at a time, or one project. Worst case scenario, I might do something really basic, like plain spacer beads, or pulling stringer. These jobs are still productive if not especially creative.
4. Start with colour. If I am really stuck, I might just pull out rods and hold them up to each other and think about colour combos I like. Or, I might take just one colour I am really loving, or a frit blend, and use that as a jumping off point to branch out from – for example, finding different colours that really make that one colour sing, or trying the frit on a bunch of different bases.
5. Keep your brain entertained. I switch up between listening to audiobooks, listening to music, or watching tv shows or movies or my laptop. Sometimes I think I am bored with torching and I was actually just bored of my playlist!
6. Take breaks. Taking snack breaks or sitting in the garden or even just stepping outside for a few breaths of fresh air can really help me when I am trying to push through and work on a big order that I might not be in the mood for doing. My garden is right outside my studio so I can peek out and see how things are doing – at least when the weather is nice.
7. Don’t force it, and don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t happen. Sometimes I find it’s a good idea to just NOT try to work if I’m really not feeling like it. It’s supposed to be fun, so I try not to give myself too hard a time if I’m not in the mood. It might mean working on some other aspect of my business that day (taking photos, working on my website, adding new items to my Etsy store, promoting myself online), or it might mean just *taking a day off*. Or a week. Or a few months. I’ve taken almost a year off before in fact, when other things in life got too hectic. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when you need one.