Has your creativity ever felt a little low? Today, Sarai and Haley share ten things to do when you're just not feeling very creative.
They cover things you can do to come up with new ideas that get you excited again, things you can do to prepare for when creativity does strike, and things you can do to get your hands moving.
Below are the show notes for this podcast episode, a brief summary of what's covered, followed by a full transcript.
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10 Things To Do When You’re Not Feeling Creative
Here are ten ideas if you're feeling a little bit low on the creativity spectrum right now.
- Watch a movie with great costumes.
- Go on a field trip to something fashion-related, like an art museum, a vintage store or high-end boutique.
- Make some frivolous mood boards on Pinterest based on a theme. Play with colors, garments, or anything that gets you feeling creative.
- Clean and organize your sewing space and your stash. You can do it in in 15 minutes
- Read a book about something creative. This could be historical fiction, fashion history, an art book, or even a biography.
- Plan a craft night, either with your friends or on your own.
- Spend time with a kid and watch how they approach their creativity with wild abandon.
- Tackle a UFO (an unfinished project), especially if there are only a few steps left. Or, do some mending.
- Do some wardrobe planning or personal style reflection.
- Go to the Seamwork Community or another community where you can get inspired by other people who are enthusiastic about making.
You. I'm Sarai.
And I'm Haley.
And this is Seamwork Radio. Welcome back to Seamwork radio, where we share practical ideas for building a creative process so you can sew with intention and joy.
Today, we're talking about ten things to do when you're just not feeling very creative. So we're going to cover things you can do to come up with new ideas that get you excited again, things you can do to prepare for when creativity does strike, and things you can do just to get your hands moving.
All right, let's talk about creativity. Haley. So our icebreaker for today. When do you feel the least creative?
I think that I feel the least creative when I'm bogged down, when I'm just too busy, bogged down with my to-do list, which is kind of ironic because that's probably what I could use—to utilize the benefits that being creative gives me.
But, yeah, I think it's just when I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day, and creativity really offers us a break from that. So it can be such a struggle to find that balance, to honor when you need the extra time for your life and also acknowledge when spending some time on your creative practice will only be beneficial to you.
Yeah, I totally agree. I think that's when I also feel the least creative is when I feel just overwhelmed and busy and just feel like my whole life is just one long checklist that I'm working off of. That's when I think it really zaps my creativity.
I have this quote up on my bulletin board in my office from the writer Austin Kleon that says “Creative people need time to sit around and do nothing.” I think that's so true. I think if you don't have that margin built in to your life, then it's really hard to find your creativity.
But like you said, that is when you need it the most. So I think that's why having practices around it is so important, because you kind of have to break that cycle somehow. And I think having things that you can turn to over and over again really helps with that.
Well, that's a great way to start off today's episode. But if you have an icebreaker for a future episode for us, there's a question you want to ask us. Go ahead and leave it for us. If you're a Seamwork member, you can go to seamwork.com/go/icebreakers. And that'll take you to a thread on our community where you can leave your question for us for a future episode.
All right, so let's talk more about creativity. So the bad news is you can't be creative all the time. Your creativity kind of ebbs and flows. That's true for everybody. But the good news is that the more you practice your creativity, the easier it'll come back to you.
So sometimes it can be nice to have a series of creative prompts or something like that to get you kick started. So that's what this episode is all about—having something to come back to that helps get you back in gear.
And I just want to say that it's okay to not feel creative all the time. I think it's totally normal for your creativity to be at a low point, and you shouldn't feel pressured to get it back up to a certain level. And that's not really what this is about. This is more about what are the things that we can do to make ourselves feel better and to kind of put us in the right headspace to at least reclaim some of our creativity, or if that's not possible for you right now, to at least kind of prepare the way for when it does naturally come back, which I think is a great way to look at it.
I think if you can set yourself up, whether that is you yourself, or your space or your tools, whatever you need to make things work for you better when you do feel more creative, I think that's a great way to kind of get back in the zone without putting too much pressure on yourself.
What kinds of things do you do to really help nourish your creativity? Haley?
I think that there are a couple of things I do that help a lot. The first thing is that I create routines in my life that allow space for restfulness, because I think that that, like you were saying before, is such an important part of allowing our brains the space to ideate and be creative. So, for me, some of those things include, I set a time every single night to read. I try to make it a point to cook six dinners at home every single night. And the time I spend in the kitchen is always really restful. And I would call it a soft creativity. It's a creativity that comes fairly easily, and there's not, like, a lot of pressure around it. So I find that really nice.
I also always spend Sundays being restful with my family, and I think that those things really help. The second thing that I do is setting aside time to be creative, that I don't put expectations on myself. It's just time that I can go to my sewing room and sew. If I want to. I can make a mood board if I want to, I could watch YouTube if I want to, but it's just time that's there for me to use however I want.
Yeah, that's great. I love that idea. When it comes to finding routines and ways to build restfulness into your life, one of the things that I've been experimenting with lately is when I create my to-do list every day, I've started dividing it into two. So on one side I have the things I want to accomplish, and on the other side is my recovery.
On the accomplished side, I have the bigger projects I'm working on, the little tasks I need to get done, whatever that is. Life tasks, work tasks, whatever it is. On the other side, I have an area for active recovery, and then I have an area for just decompression. That's been very helpful to me because there are things that you can do that I think help you to recover, like any kind of creative task, whether that's sewing or like you were saying, coming up with a mood board or writing or drawing, whatever it is, but they still require a lot of brain power to do and energy. And then there's decompression, which are the things that are just purely restful and that help restore my energy, like taking a bath or going for a walk or something like that.
That's been really helpful to me because I have noticed on the days where I have a lot of things on the work side and hardly anything on the other side, those are the days where I do not feel at my best. So it's kind of like a little way to journal and check myself and see where I'm kind of landing with my rest. So that's been really helpful to me. I think it's an interesting way to look at creativity as a way to replenish yourself. That's not just pure rest, it's kind of this in-between space.
Is there anything that you find that hinders your creativity?
I think just feeling that time crunch we were talking about earlier is really the worst thing for me, for my creativity. It just makes me feel like I need to go go all the time, and that does not leave a lot of space for coming up with new ideas.
I mentioned being overwhelmed earlier. I think that is similar, but it doesn't necessarily have to be just because I'm busy. It could just be I have something big going on in my life or something that's just occupying my thoughts a lot. I think that can really put a damper in my creativity. That's just life. Those things happen. And I think it's important for me not to feel like I should be doing more when it comes to my creative life when you're in those times when you just can't, they happen to everybody. What about you?
I think for me, the thing that I find that hinders my creativity the most is that when I'm not tending to my emotional wellbeing as much as I should, and that's because I think that, for me, and this is probably different for everyone, that a really big sign that I'm neglecting my emotional wellbeing is that my inner critic becomes really loud. And it's hard to thrive creatively when you're stuck in a self-criticism loop. So making sure that I'm really tending to my emotional wellbeing, I feel like, helps to remove that roadblock for me.
So that could be like, it's different for me based on whatever it is that maybe I'm processing or dealing with in that moment. But maybe it's like making sure I go to therapy, journaling, meditating, doing breathing exercises, practicing mindfulness. All of those things can really help me when I feel like that inner critic is just like, she's being too loud. She's noisy.
All right, well, I am going to kick us off with some tips. I'm really into this list. I think we have some great tips here.
Tip number one is to watch a movie with really good costumes. I know for me, a lot of the times I'm really drawn to period pieces when I'm really itching for a great costume moment. But if period pieces aren't your jam, maybe you're into something that's a little bit more fantasy, more fantastical, but anything that just has costumes that you're really excited about. And I like this because it's that more like passive, kind of creative rest where you just get to sit there, eat your popcorn, watch your movie or your show.
Do you have any favorites?
Let's see. Do I have any favorites? I mean, I used to love Mad Men because I love the costumes.
The costumes are incredible.
I've watched some of the marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and if you're a Mad Men person, I feel like you would also enjoy the costumes. I think the costumes on that show are pretty fun, but, I mean, you could go, like, the Jane Austen route as well. You could watch Bridgerton. I feel like their costumes have the nod to historical, but also they're not. So it's like a little bit of room for play there. What about you?
Oh, gosh, so many. I really like watching old Hitchcock movies for the costume. So many incredible, just visuals overall. Not just costumes, but the visuals, I think, really amazing. Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, I think, just is really visually stunning. I love watching that one still to this day. And then the 1930s are definitely my favorite era for fashion. So movies from the 1930s, I love watching the Thin Man movies. Myrnaloy's costumes in that are just, like, so over the top and cool and cute, and she's amazing. I just love her. If you haven't watched the Thin Man movies, they are hilarious. They are really funny, so I'd highly recommend those. But the costumes are great too.
Your reference of Sophia Coppola reminded me that I really want to go see Priscilla, which I am prepared to be delighted by the costumes in that as well.
Absolutely. All right, the next tip is to go on a field trip. So some ideas for field trips that can really help to ignite your creativity, especially around sewing, are going to art museums. I think art museums are just a great source for inspiration for visuals on all levels. Color, especially for me, I love this idea.
You can go to
vintage stores, which are always a great source for inspiration for details that I can add to my clothing. You can go to a high end boutique, even if it's really out of your budget. I really like doing that as well and looking at very modern clothing that has really interesting designer details that you might not have thought of that you can add or just kind of scope out what is the difference between a really high end garment and a more kind of middle of the road garment or a lower end garment and kind of see what makes it special and how could you add those details to your clothing. I find these things to be really interesting for just kind of getting the idea mill going. So you could bring a little pocket sketchbook with you and kind of jot down ideas.
You can take some pictures in the dressing room with your phone, and there's lots of things you can do to kind of get your ideas going, especially if you have a special project in mind for the future.
Or you can go fabric shopping and kind of just take a look at what fabrics are out there, and that can also sometimes spark ideas. Even if you don't buy anything, I think it's great. You can go swatch shopping and just pick up a bunch of swatches, take them home, start using those to make mood boards or create palettes. If you do the Design Your Wardrobe program, you can use that to create a palette for your next seasonal wardrobe. I think that's really fun. I just did that for spring, and it is a really fun thing to do. So I think all of those really help me to get going.
A little side story on high end boutiques. When I lived in LA, I used to go to Rodeo Drive and go see the really fancy high end designers, their clothing, like IRL. And I spent one day, like, an hour at Vivienne Westwood store just, like, staring at sleeves. I don't know what year it was or what season or the collection, but the sleeves were so impeccable, and they were really elaborate shaping elements with darts and pleats. I've never seen a more beautiful sleeve in my life. So if you have access to high end stores like that, just prepare to be amazed.
Yeah. It can be so inspiring and incredible to see those kinds of things.
Yeah. Also be prepared to be disrespected by the sales staff. That's a them problem, to be honest.
Maybe you can Pretty Woman them later.
Big mistake. Huge.
All right, well, moving on to tip number three is make a frivolous mood board on Pinterest based on a theme. And I don't mean, like, make a mood board about your spring design inspiration or coats that you want to make. I'm talking, like, truly, truly frivolous. I did this once with my friend Toni. We made this really just ridiculous nautical clothing themed mood board, and it was, like, based on the idea—she is from France, and she told me that in France she would watch Love Boat, but the name translated to, like, “The Cruise is Having Fun” if you translate the french title to English. And so we just used to crack up over that and how when she found out it was called Love Boat, she thought it was hilarious.
I don't know which name is better.
I don't know either. I think maybe “The Cruise is Having Fun” But we had this mood board called the cruise is having fun, where we would just add fun nautical themed things. And we had it going for a few years, and it was just kind of like this fun way of communicating with each other.
I love that.
Also looking at random nautical inspiration. So I'm a huge fan. I recommend it.
Well, the great thing about Pinterest is that it'll start showing you things. If you start pinning in a certain genre, it'll start showing you more of that. So it's kind of a great way to spark your creativity around a certain theme to do something. I'm imagining something that's like a pasta themed board or something like that.
You could go way more frivolous than “The Cruise is Having Fun”, but the sky's the limit.
I love that. Another thing you can do, and we've talked about this before, is cleaning and organizing your space. I think this is a really nice way to do if you're really feeling like your creativity is just not there and you just want to kind of lay the groundwork for when it does come back. I think this is a really nice thing you can do in even a short amount of time.
So we have a whole episode about this, about how to clean your sewing space in 15 minutes, and we'll link to that in the show notes. But I think just getting kind of cleaned and organized, if you see it as something you're doing in order to enhance your creativity instead of as a chore, I think it's really all about mindset, at least for me, somebody who is not super thrilled with cleaning. I don't love cleaning, but I do love organizing. And I think as long as I can kind of put myself in that mindset that I'm organizing for my future creative self, kind of giving my future self a gift, it can make it a lot more soothing for me.
You can also go through your stash, which I think is a great way to kind of re-spark your creativity, because you see what you already have. I just did this yesterday, actually, as I was starting to prepare for my spring sewing, I went through my whole stash and pulled out a bunch of fabrics and created a palette with those, and I found that to be really inspiring, too.
All right, our next tip is to go read a book.
I think that there's a lot of possibilities here. You can read a book that's specifically about creative projects or sewing. There's lots of really fabulous ones out there. You could just read a novel if that is feeling like it's going to be something to get you into your imagination, get you feeling a little bit creative.
Or you can go to the library and look at fashion books or art books as a way to kind of rekindle your inspiration. Or a bookstore. I'm fond of the library. I let Charley go play in the kids section, and I grab a couple, like, art books. Half watch her, half scan.
Yeah. I also love biographies about artists and designers. I think that is often really inspiring to me. Or books about creative practices of famous writers or famous artists. I find that to be really interesting to read and can kind of get me going again when my creativity gets low.
Our next tip is to plan a craft night with your friends. I think sometimes other crafts, especially if sewing, is just feeling kind of overwhelming for you, other crafts can really get your creative juices flowing again. So I think that's a really fun one. And I think having other people around can really help to spark something, either new ideas or just kind of get you more enthusiastic about it.
But if you don't have other people that you are able to invite, or it's just not in the cards right now because of timing or whatever, you can also do this as a solo craft night. Kind of like Haley was saying, either just kind of give yourself the gift of that time, set aside a certain amount of time, and let yourself do whatever craft kind of sparks your interest at that moment. I think that's a really nice thing to do for yourself, especially if you're feeling kind of run down and that's the source of your low creativity.
All right, our next tip is to spend time with a kid.
I think for me, being around the untethered sense of creativity that children have is so energizing and exciting. So you can do a lot of stuff with this time. You can spend the time to teach them a craft, or you can even have them lead a craft.
Either way, it's like, sure to be a barrel of monkeys. It's going to be a good time.
And I've been doing a lot of painting projects with my daughter. I'm always so precious about the way that I proceed with my painting and the way she just goes in and then keeps going, enough is never enough. I just feel like it's really energizing to be around, and I'm always really impressed with what she makes. And it reminds me that when we don't let our inner critic get the best of us, when we just create with pure joy that we could make just the most exciting things. And even if we don't make the most exciting things, we're having fun, which is probably way more important anyway.
Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Whenever I visit my niece and she gets her crayons out and she's drawing, she always wants me. She leads me over to her little drawing desk and wants me to draw with her, and it's so fun. I just love it.
The next tip is to try tackling a UFO, especially if you only have a few steps left. We have a whole episode about this as well. How to tackle your ufos. So, UFOs are your unfinished objects. Those are the things that have been sitting around for a while, and you've been meaning to finish them, but you just haven't been able to work up the energy to do it. I think when you don't have the brain space to kind of tackle a whole new project, sometimes these can really give you the joy of finishing something in less time.
So if there's something that you've got cut out that you need to sew, if there's something that just has a few things that you need left to do on it, or you have something maybe you finished and it just didn't quite work, and you need to change it up a little bit. You've kept it around because you want to rehem it or whatever. I have a dress like this. The hem kind of stretched out, and it ended up being longer in the back than the front, so I just need to rehem it, and it's been sitting in my closet for quite a while. If I get into one of these headspaces, I think that would be a great project to just kind of get a whole new dress, because I haven't worn it since that happened. So that's a really nice kind of instant gratification for you.
Yeah, you could also do that with your mending pile as well. I think that's such a great idea.
And next, we have the tip of doing some kind of wardrobe planning or personal style reflection. I really love the Style Workshop, which is a workshop that we have available. It's really great at reflecting on your personal style and kind of giving you some more perspective on the things that are going to serve you best in your wardrobe, so that when you do feel that surge of creativity, you are prepared with some more information. Or maybe the act of doing the style workshop or some style reflection is the inspiration that you need.
Yeah, I love that.
And then the final tip is to basically find a community of people that you can talk to. So the Seamwork community is a great place for that. You can connect with other creative people and see what they're making, which I just think looking at other people's projects, even if their style is completely different from my own, can be so inspiring. Not just for ideas for my own sewing, but just the enthusiasm that we have in our community can be really contagious. I find this with sewing, I find this with a lot of different things.
Being around people who are doing ambitious things and enjoying the process is one of the most motivating things in my life. So I think having a community like that, whether it's here at Seamwork or somewhere else, is incredibly motivating. And can really help get you out of those ruts.
All right, well, we shared a whole bunch of good tips today. I'm going to recap them really quick.
So here are ten ideas if you're feeling a little bit low on the creativity spectrum right now.
One is to watch a movie with great costumes.
The second is to go on a field trip, like an art museum or a vintage store or high end boutique.
Number three is to do some frivolous mood boards on Pinterest just based on a theme.
Number four is to clean and organize your sewing space and your stash.
Number five is to read a book about something creative.
Number six is to plan a craft night, either with your friends or on your own.
Number seven is spend time with a kid.
Number eight is to tackle a UFO. And especially if there are only a few steps left, I think this is a great one.
Number nine is to do some wardrobe planning or some personal style reflection.
And ten is to go to the Seamwork community or some other community where you can get inspired by other people who are enthusiastic about making.
All right, what's your big takeaway from this episode? Haley?
I think that my takeaway is that in our day to day life, we have so many opportunities to recharge our creativity and participate in creativity so much of the time, it feels like a matter of choice. The matter of choosing that this is a creative act, too. And acknowledging that, I don't know, I think that we diminish our own creativity so much. And reading over this list with you today just reminds me that so many things have the potential to be creative acts.
Yeah, absolutely. Totally agree.
I think for me, my big takeaway is that when I'm feeling low, being able to turn to other people to enhance my own creativity is really important to me. And that could be just a friend that you can talk to. It could be having a community online like Seamwork community. It could be having a group of friends that you can get together with and be creative with.
But I think just being inspired by other people who are also just interested in life, interested in being creative, interested in trying new things, interested in learning, I think being surrounded by those people is one of the most important things to me.
And I'm really grateful to everybody on the Seamwork team for providing that in my work life and for everybody who provides that for me outside of work, too. So I just really appreciate that personally.
All right, well, we mentioned the Style Workshop earlier, so if you're curious about that, the style workshop is a hands on workshop that walks, you through exercises to help you identify your core style. And it's also a great process to go through before tackling any other wardrobe planning.
And it is totally free for Seamwork members. But if you aren't a member, it's only $10. So again, free for Seamwork members.
If you liked this episode, please consider leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice. Whether that's Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you happen to be listening to us right now, we appreciate those five star reviews. And if you don't have time to leave a review, can you just leave the stars? We appreciate that as well.
We have a review today from Stunt Monkey 007. Wow, what a great name. “I wanted to take the time to rate and review because I truly love this podcast. I look forward to it every week, and Sarah and Haley provide really insightful and useful tips and advice for not only sewing, but for learning and cultivating your own style. I can see how their advice has helped me on my journey, and I'm finally starting to feel confident about what I want to wear and make for myself. Thank you so much. You've helped me a lot.”
With a heart emoji. Thank you, Stunt Monkey 007. We really, really appreciate that. I love that. That really makes my day.
That does it for us this week. I'm Sarai.
And I'm Haley.
And this is Seamwork Radio.