What Do I Start Next? How to Discipline Your Creativity During the Doldrums

So, you’ve recently finished a beaded piece and it’s time to start a new project. You’ve flipped through your books and scoured Pinterest, but somehow you just can’t find a project you want to start next. All the patterns you have stocked up seem boring or too intimidating or just not what you feel like doing right now.

I think this happens to all of us and I tend to fall into this rut pretty often – especially right after I’ve published a new design online that I’m really proud of. After making samples and teaching the same exciting new bracelet over and over, deciding what to work on next can be a real challenge. It’s like being really hungry, but nothing sounds good to eat.

Luckily, I found a few methods to give myself a kick in the pants when I don’t know where to start. Let me know if any of them seem helpful to you!

  1. Finish a UFO or two …or six.

    Let’s just get this out of the way up front. We ALL have unfinished objects laying around our work spaces. I generally keep myself in line when it comes to not starting a new project until I’ve finished the last one, but I still have some pieces that have slipped through the cracks. Maybe you have a pile of bracelets that need clasps. Or maybe you have an earring finished that is waiting for you to make its twin. When you’re feeling indecisive about starting a new project, commit to finishing a few UFO’s until you feel inspired again.

    This purse and this necklace both took me over a year to finish because I set them aside and let them become UFO’s. But you know what, finishing them was SO much more satisfying because of that lapse.

  2. Practice a stitch you haven’t mastered yet.

    When you’re in a project rut, taking the time to master a stitch can be a great way to build your beading skill set. Maybe you know how to do herringbone, but your tension is wobbly. Or maybe you want to compare doing one-needle RAW vs two-needle RAW. Pick out some beads in your favorite color and do a whole piece in just that one stitch. The result will be simple and classy AND by the end of it, you’ll have vastly improved a stitch that you previously felt iffy about. DSC00400

That herringbone example was actually straight from my life. I made this when I                 was feeling stuck and just decided to practice my least favorite stitch. I love the                   simplicity of the final piece.

  1. Look ahead for upcoming birthdays or holidays.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I ALWAYS have a deadline coming up. Between trying to teach a class once every month or two and constantly signing up for blog hop challenges, there is pretty much always a project that I should be working on. If you’re feeling uninspired, look ahead and see what you can get a head start on. It’s never too early to begin making Christmas ornaments and I bet someone you love has a birthday coming up. Sometimes, having a theme or a specific customer/gift-receiver in mind is just what you need to get the ball rolling. DSC00406I’m not usually big on holiday colors, but sometimes Christmas red and greens just speak to me.

  2. Spend some time with your stash.

    There have been several occasions where I go into my bead room expecting to make something and instead spend the whole day organizing and consolidating my stash. Spending time putting away beads after you finish a project and organizing your chosen storage method not only reminds you of what beads you have, but it can also be a great source of inspiration. Maybe you have a special focal you forgot you purchased that you now want to use. Maybe while sorting, you encounter a color combination that you wouldn’t normally pick. You get all the advantage of searching for inspiration, while also getting some cleaning done.

    This bracelet was made after I decided on new type of storage for my seed beads. All the 11/0’s I had that were almost empty got thrown into one tube. In the end, I had a gorgeous bead soup that I would never have made otherwise.

  3. Just Push Through.

    I know it sounds silly to insist on beading something when you don’t feel enthused about it, but there’s a difference between taking a break from a hobby because you need one and stopping your work because you feel defeated on uninspired. If you need a break, by all means take one and come back when you feel refreshed. But if you stop beading for weeks on end because you feel blocked or uninspired, getting out of that rut and back into beading is just going to be that much harder. When in doubt, pick your favorite pattern and favorite color and just go. Your mojo will come back eventually, but pushing through and making something during the doldrums is a great act of creative training and will keep you ready and in the zone when inspiration strikes.

Have you guys ever been in the creative doldrums where nothing sounds fun or you don’t know what to make next? If you have any tips I missed or extra advice, please share it in the comments!

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