Monday, January 21, 2008

Feeling Overwhelmed: Creative Block

I moderate a great list. I love it! :)

As moderator there, I often get private emails asking for additional tips or help or thank yous. Every now and then I hear sadder stories about very creative people feeling overwhelmed. Feeling stuck. Scrapbookers who haven't scrapped in years. Stampers who can't seem to get motivated even to pick out ink for a card. Crafters and sewers look at their lovely stashes and say "Why was I doing this again?" That's when I get out my thinking cap-- and my empathy pen --and write them heartfelt notes in typical Rockester style. Here is what I usually say.


You wanted to start 2008 off with a productive and loving focus. You had good hobby intentions... But why are you just heading for the sofa instead? Any of these three common scenarios may be the problem.

You come home from a full day of work. You are soooo tired. But you would love ot be able to get some crafting done tonight. You might even make dinner and walk yourself to the doorway of your workspace. Dang! Look at all that. Paper piles here, store bags that need to be unpacked from a previous shopping trip over there, snack trash there, a half filled crop tote over there and some half-packed page kits in progress here. Oh man, where to start? There is just so MUCH to do before you even start. You can't even sit down. If this really a hobby you can enjoy?

Photos, photos, photos. If its not the digital backlog of files on the hard drive that intimidates you, it's the technology of the camera and the computer. Not to mention boxes and piles of real photos. They are all just waiting...waiting...waiting. You know in your heart there are thousands of photos to scrap and that means hundreds of thousands of decisions to make. How will you get them all scrapped up? Do you even want to start the process of DECIDING what to keep and not keep? What to scrap and not scrap.... What the kids will 'want' later in life and what can be left out? ....It's too much responsibility! This is not so fun right now. In fact it's downright mind-boggling. So you do nothing. Where is the sofa again? It seems much more inviting than navigating this photo-overgrowth.

You are scrapping for the family. You do lots of other things for them too.... But somehow they just 'don't get it'. When you show them a page, they grunt. When you are proud of a card the just give you a blank stare or an 'OK honey." When you are on the computer looking for ideas, they get cranky that dinner is not ready or laundry needs folding. You keep hearing how some families LOVE getting scrapbooks. Well, not yours. They could care less--or so it seems. Maybe it is the ages they are at, but you are running out of ambition. You need some Kudos and Applause. They don't have to break out the party hats when you finish an album, but come on, they shouldn't roll their eyes or grouse about the checkbook should they? This is getting old. You are so over this hobby if they don't even appreciate it!

Sound familiar? Any --or all three? :)

Here are some tips to bring the FUN back into your hobby time. Don't be stressed out. You can do this.

1. Get an Overview Again
Review what it is you want to get done and WHY. What is the point of this hobby for YOU? Do you want to make two or three 12x12 albums for each child? Do you want to focus on making albums with messages and sentiments and not events? Or do you feel more creative going chronologially by big event? Do you prefer a 60 page family album for each year? Once you know the direction that feels right for your overall message, you can make a goal list. Make a list of what results you want for your album collection. Write it down. Yes, write the overview focus goals down. (It helps with the next steps.)

2. Smaller Bites:

Now step back. Each of the three above scenarios deals with a very big problem. Yes, anyone would feel overwhelmed if they looked ONLY at the massivness of these tasks. Now it's time to look at your overriding goals (#1) and making a focused plan. Assessing the big situation is not the same as standing still and just gaping at the immesity of the task. Now you are going to think about the smaller practical bits. Put your large goals into specific smaller actions. Organize one drawer, sort and print out one file of digital photos, or join one class. So think small and specific. Taking a small step in the right direction is the only way to go forward. Repeat as needed. :)

3. Say "No!" and then say "Yes!"

Say No to outside influences that take your time. Many of them are not that important. Really.
Say No to negativity--your own or other people's. You CAN do this.
Say No to letting things bother you. So what if they roll their eyes. Roll yours right back! LOL
Say No to Chaos. It's too easy to fall in. And too hard to climb out!
Say No to time wasters. Of any kind.

Say Yes to small achievements and small steps and small lessons.
Say Yes to creativity. Pick ONE idea and do it. Not the whole idea book at once.
Say Yes to change. Admit it--you need a little!
Say Yes to baby steps. Daily baby steps.
Say Yes to patting yourself on the back. Sometimes it really IS all you get.
Say Yes to speaking up. Ask for help at home. Ask for support. Ask for what you need.
Say Yes to fun. Sign up for classes. Meet new friends. They "get it" when others don't.
Say Yes to yourself. Yes you can. Yes you will. Yes you should. Yes you are worth it. :)

You are in control of where 2008 and your hobby goals go for you. Fit time in. Shape your space. Break your goals down. Make it managable. Move forward.



Kathy Boyers said...

Great article! I have posted some suggestions on my blog,, that talks about this same subject, if anyone is interested.

Tehachap said...

Just found your site... excellent suggestions to "break the block"!

Carol Westover
Tehachapi, CA