The Terror in Creating

The Terror in Creating

Terror.  That’s a word they never mentioned in art school.

Color theory, art history, figurative drawing, these were all pre-requisites; considered the very foundation of any good education in the arts.

Terror?  Fear? Not so much.  Neither of those words or any words like that, were ever uttered.

And yet… who doesn’t feel fear and even terror, at some point, when creating?

As children, we run headlong, without thinking, without concern, without fear, and we create.  Using mud and sand and sticks and our fingers. We don’t pause and reconsider.  We don’t think – but maybe this isn’t a good idea.  Yet somewhere along the way we learn to be fearful. We learn that being creative opens us up to criticism, anger, even rage and perhaps violence.  Suddenly what came naturally to all of us, no longer feels natural.  We tell ourselves that we aren’t “creative types”.  And yet, I would argue that we are born creative.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

Creating doesn’t have to be on paper, it can be an idea, a vision, a way of thinking.  Each of us has a unique mind, shaped by our experiences, our interactions, what we love, our passions, where we were born, the families we were born into, the land upon which we were raised.

So where does this terror come from?

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear, fear, fear.  We are taught to be “sensible”.  We are taught to not “dream too big”. We are taught to not “waste time”.  We are taught that to create is a luxury.  But what if what we were taught is wrong?

Moving through fear, even terror is one of the most exhilarating, transcendent things I’ve ever experienced.  It is what connects me to other human beings. It is what connects me to my creativity.  It bonds, unites, and can bring me to my knees.  It’s what causes me to rediscover the unadulterated beauty and joy of my innocence, that exquisite time before I learned to feel fear.

If any of this resonates with you, consider enrolling in my new workshop: Finding Your Voice where we will use various prompts, words, exercises and even stitching to break though our fears and find ourselves in our work.


Exploring the Creative Process

Exploring the Creative Process

Every morning my husband and I read something we find interesting and thought provoking, and then we discuss. It’s become a ritual of sorts and has been incredibly helpful, even transformative in many ways. Not least of which is that I so often am reminded of creativity and stitching, and how both are a process and ideally, embraced.

Every day I sit in my little creative room and I stitch. Each day that act of stitching is a new experience, an exploration of the physical, but also of the emotional and even the spiritual. I gather together my materials, usually beginning with colors, and then I either sketch out an idea or just begin stitching something. What’s interesting is that sometimes things just unfold beautifully and without interruption and 45 minutes to an hour later I have something I like or, if I’m really lucky, something I love. But there are other days when that just doesn’t happen. I struggle, I tear out, I undo, redo, undo again. I walk away, I come back, I sketch an idea, I start again. Hours can go by and eventually I end up with something that I’m okay with, although perhaps not thrilled with. Still, I’ve learned to leave it alone and days later I may come back and think – I love this! Or not. The point is, it’s all a process and it’s the process I’ve become increasingly fascinated by and have learned to love.

Circle #42 took 45 minutes start to finish.
Circle #44 took several hours… (And I made up a variation on the whipped woven circle that I’ve not seen before, though I do not claim to have invented this, I’ve just never seen it before, so if it exists, it does so without my knowledge of it.)

Each circle has its own personality and each one was a different experience to stitch. What I’ve learned from years of designing is that I must trust the process. I must trust myself. I must trust that if I stick with it, something magical will reveal itself, even if it’s not always in a way that I instantly recognize. It can be said that this is true for life as well.

My Tendril Circle. I can’t remember how long this took, but I had an idea and went with it. There wasn’t any ripping out and beginning again, but rather the steady process of continuing to let it unfold.

Every Wednesday I am devoting a video to creating, designing and the creative process. Those videos can be found ‘here‘. Stay tuned for a new one coming tomorrow!

Exploring the Creative Process

Working Through Creative Blocks

The day before yesterday I came up with this wild looking circle as one of the circles I’m doing, loosely following Sue Spargo’s Toned-Down Circle Sampler 90-day project that she is doing on Instagram. Often I’ve been using a stitch or two that she’s using for that day as a prompt and then seeing what I come up with. This one quickly announced itself as a diva.

The Diva that became my thirtieth circle inspired by the Drizzle Stitch.

Yesterday I posted a video about the creative process and a number of people messaged me privately, and a few publicly, about their process and how it was similar or differed. What struck me when reading other people’s experiences while creating or even just attempting to create is that unless you are one of those people who has felt the brutal horror of indecision, making the wrong choices, battling perfectionism and the inner mean voice, it’s very, very difficult to understand. Those who have experienced it know how awful it can be to constantly question what one is doing. Is it any good? Should I have done it differently? Maybe I’m just not creative, and do it anyway. As a result, I’m going to be doing a weekly youtube video – exploring the creative process; what stalls us, and how to work around those challenges.

The circle I created after the Diva was the backup band in comparison. It was all I could do not to tear it out. However I had no time to redo the whole thing, and part of my efforts to combat my own inner critic is to force myself to leave things that I want to completely redo, alone. This requires sitting with the discomfort and desire to “get it right”, “make it better” and any number of other things I tell myself I’m doing. The discomfort can be, and often is, quite painful. But once done a few times, the next time becomes a bit easier.

The Diva is above the backup singer who is directly below.

All of this is not to suggest that we settle for mediocracy. This has nothing to do with that. This is very specifically about how to move forward when creating.

What are you creating? Is it easy? Difficult? I’d love to hear.