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  • Sara Nordling

Keep Making!

A short time ago I put out a request to people for what they did when they were stuck, creatively, to get unstuck and move forward. I interacted with one person who, to summarize, said, “Yes, I would like to know what to do myself.” So, given the lack of response from others, I am coming to the conclusion that you also may have very little idea on what to do when you feel stuck, or just plain out of creative ideas.

I have been reading and researching on this topic for a while as well as working through my own stuck times. When I was in a university art program, I had to be creative on demand, on a time schedule. There is no other option. (That is both the best of times and the worst of times.) I’ve had to unstick myself many times. So, I believe I have the basis for a series of posts on different suggestions you can use to get back to being creative.

I will share some of what I have learned now, in increments. I will also be teaching a seminar on this topic at Complex Weavers this summer in Knoxville, Tennessee.

One of the first things I learned about staying creative is to keep making. As Rowland Ricketts (my major professor in graduate school) said, “Keep making, keep making, keep making.” What he means is that you need to keep moving forward. It may be you are stuck in your weaving creativity. But, maybe you have an urge to bake bread. Then bake the bread. You are at least moving forward on something; you are not giving up. By doing this you put your brain in a state where it’s starting to be used. It’s not just being the monkey mind of jumping form half and idea, to half an idea, to endless cycles of fretting. It’s like syphoning some of the fretting (I’m stuck, I have no ideas, I don’t know what to make) energy off your brain, which allows the rest of your brain to work on ideas, rest, and re-focus.

You also never know what when the making of something, anything, can inform your practice. Switching gears can be good and can give you a fresh eye into what you were working on. The important part is to keep active and to keep making something.

When you keep making it is the opposite of giving up and shutting down. During times of stress, being stuck, or in a funk, my tendency is to get lost in a good novel. That does help for a while. But it doesn’t get my unstuck. The process of making something, anything, is much more helpful. It’s active and motivating in a way that tuning out to a book, podcast, or television program is not. When you are active and engage you give your mind more opportunities for engagement and the ability to get unstuck.

This is the first of my helpful suggestions. I will explore more in future blog posts. This tip may not resonate with you as much as some of the future ones. Or, it may be just what you need. There is not a single solution for everybody.

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