One Creation Sparks Another

My Embroidery Project

Fight the Funk

The art of creation is my passion. This is true to the extent that it can keep me up until three in the morning, make me deaf against the needs of my family and work me until my fingers are numb and my head is throbbing (I’m an all-in kind of girl so sometimes I push myself beyond what is healthy). But sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes the monster called creative block drains the motivation out of me and puts me in a funk.

When that happens, I don’t want to work on any of my eight or twelve ongoing projects. I’m left with only two options: fight or sink into a bottomless pit of uninspired apathy. The drive to create might be temporarily hibernating, but I can’t thrive without doing something. I’ve got to fight the funk.

Try Something New

I have a theory that all forms of art are intrinsically connected, no matter how distant. The act of creation encompasses all arts regardless of the field. I also believe that one creation sparks another (like the concept of brainstorming – one thought sparks another). Which is why if you’re burnt out with one medium, I’ve found it’s helpful to try another.

A Fear of Needles

I decided to put the idea into practice once when I had creative block by trying my hand at some decorative embroidery. Now, you have to understand that knitting is the closest I would normally come to something like needle art (and I’ve been known to hand my knitting projects off to someone else for “finishing” because facing the darning needle practically makes me break out in hives). Typically, I am very anti-needle (for sticking fabric just as much as for sticking flesh), but I thought I’d throw my fears to the wind and give it a try.

You can see my attempt (in the photo above), which I am actually quite pleased with (the chunky, homemade look gives it personality). And although I’ve never again had the urge to grab the embroidery floss, I can say that after finishing the project, it was easier to go back to my traditional arts. Maybe it was the satisfaction of completion. Maybe it was the change that made me long for my other projects. All I know is that it worked and I overcame the funk.

Do you ever get stuck in a funk about your projects? What are some atypical projects you’ve attempted? What else do you do to escape the funk?


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  1. #1 by Tanya :) on November 16, 2010 - 10:52 am

    I like that shirt! And may I just say that I am SHOCKED that you picked up a needle and thread!?! I’m proud of you though. You know sometimes it really does take a hard shove out of our comfort zones to open up tons new possibilities!

    I was actually thinking about this kind of thing just this morning… The more we expose ourselves to other forms of art or other people’s art or even literature, history, etc. the more we exercise our brains to move back and forth through a lot of different levels of creativity… I might need to write about this.

  2. #2 by Becca J. Campbell on November 16, 2010 - 11:36 am

    I agree. It’s refreshing to work out another section of the creative brain for a change. During the this month (National Novel Writing Month) I’ve found helpful when I’m stuck on my story to put it down for a while and pick up my knitting.

  3. #3 by Trish Pogue on November 16, 2010 - 3:23 pm

    I am totally stuck. I have been looking at a painting for about a year now. I have it sketched and have a slight idea of what colors i will use but I just can’t seem to pick up my brush and get ‘er done.

    I have lots of creative things that I like to do, sewing, scrapping, paper crafting. But none of them have inspired me to jump back into painting. I think this time I will just have to push myself into finishing. I’m ready to move on.

    Today I will commit to finish this painting by new year’s day. I’ll let you know how it’s going. And you might want remind me now and again.

  4. #4 by Becca J. Campbell on November 16, 2010 - 5:59 pm

    I will, Trish. You can do it!

  5. #5 by Courtney Cantrell on December 23, 2010 - 12:22 pm

    Becca, you’ve put into words something I’ve known for years but never bothered to think through from start to finish. And because I never thought it through, I’ve never made good use of the principle. So, thank you for doing my thinking for me. 😉

    At some point, I wrote in my journal, “Painting is a sure-fire cure for depression.” (I at least thought that far.) 😉 But I think it goes farther than that, because now that I’m paying attention, I think I turn to painting anytime I get in a serious funk over my writing. I’ve also gone on photowalks and taken photos of the most random objects I can find.

    I’m seeing a pattern there: Is visual art my particular cure for the writing funk? Maybe our brains get stuck in a rut over a project, and when we do something else creative, it jars loose the part that’s stuck?

  6. #6 by Becca J. Campbell on December 26, 2010 - 10:41 am

    Courtney — I love your photo walks and I’d love to do one sometime. It seems like our brains must be divided more than just left/right logical/creative. Like there are many creative parts that exercise different muscles or something. I agree. Sometimes I need something hands-on like painting or knitting or the like. Other times I just want to sit down and pour out through writing and when I do that it feels like a different part is controlling my hands.

    Thanks for the comments! (And I deleted your misplaced comment, BTW.) 🙂

  7. #7 by Courtney Cantrell on January 10, 2011 - 10:26 am

    Maybe there’s something in there about the different types of learning? I know I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner… So maybe sometimes I have to do hands-on stuff that triggers the kinesthetic learning part of my brain?

    And I know what you mean about feeling like a different part controls your hands at different times. I definitely feel like it’s not the same creative me who does the painting as the one who does the writing.

    You’re very welcome for the comments! And thanks for deleting the misplaced one. 🙂

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