Creativity – My Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

May 23, 2013Allison Murray

By far the most frequently asked question I receive via email is “where do you come up with all of these creative ideas?” And while I know that there is no exact formula for being creative or inspiring creativity I’ve made a list of the things that I’ve found myself doing and have compiled them. Take what you will and leave the rest behind.

Creativity -Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

Do you have something you’d like to work on but don’t have the inspiration to get after it? Leave it out someplace where it is visible. When I want to start a new shoe DIY I often place the pair on my desk. (and I really want to use that paint for it so it’s out, too) I’m constantly seeing these things even if I’m not really seeing them. This is one of the best ways I have found for the natural evolution of a crafty idea or project.

Maintaining a clean space to craft in can be difficult (I know) but I find that I work best when my space is clean and I can easily find everything I need. If you’re having to look around for an X-acto knife for 20 minutes you’re going to get peeved and inevitably lose any creative mojo you had going.

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Take a class. I’ve been trying to learn how to knit and I’m having a tough time of it on my own. But I’ve found a yarn store that would be a good fit for me to take classes at. They’re $15 for a project which isn’t bad.

Some courses, say photography at your local community college, are going to be expensive. You may have to find a course and creative hobby to fit within your budget and that kind of sucks, but there are so many things you can do that I’m sure you’ll find an acceptable alternative.

Take a leap and try something you’ve never considered. Recently I was asked if I might be interested in taking a course to make my own blown glass beads. It’s out of my budget right at the moment but I plan to save up and give it a go. Is it something I would have considered? Not without prompting and I know it’s not something I’m going to be able to set up in my own home. But how fun and creative will it be even just for the time I’m taking the course.

Creativity -Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

Borrow craft books from the library. I especially like borrowing older craft books from the 80s and 90s or even older (often more likely found at thrift stores). Some of the crafts that were standard then have fallen out of trend but there’s still some fun stuff in there. Plus when you flip through page after page and book after book, you’re bound to get those creative juices flowing!

Browse the craft aisles. Seriously walk up and down and look at things. Don’t walk by mostly looking straight ahead or randomly at the shelves. Look at every product you see. If you see something you don’t recognize pick it up and read the packaging. Is it something you’d like to give a go? Sometimes a project you’ve been interested to try but not into shelling out big bucks for will be on clearance – score! And sometimes things just come together… those feathers, these pearls, I’m a freakin’ genius!

Try to make what you need. Something totally utilitarian, like a laundry hamper, can wind up being a really creative and surprisingly fun project. Plus when you’re making something for a purpose (other than making things pretty) there’s a whole new feeling that comes along with the completion. Practical crafting can really help to increase your creativity while making your life easier.

Stuck at the doctor’s office or airport? Have nothing better to do? Sit somewhere where there is high traffic and people watch. It can be absolutely amazing the way different people will style the same things and it can be incredibly inspirational.

Creativity -Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

Jot It Down – Have multiple places where you can jot down any ideas that come up on the fly. By the bed, in your car… even the notepad app on your phone.

Even if an idea is poorly formulated, write it down. You can always work out the kinks later. Be sure to put down as much detail as you can… “with a star on top”, “hot pink and orange”, “saw the right shoes at Target”.

Consolidate your lists often. I have a master ideas list that I keep on my computer. I’m the daughter of an engineer so I can sort my list by main crafting material (glitter, Mod Podge, fabric), amount of time I think the project will take, and whether or not I have everything I need to complete the project already on hand (materials updated weekly). Though you probably don’t need to get that into it. :)

Keep something small and crafty near you (like in a purse or glove box) at all times. Four cars back in the drive thru? Bust out your sketch journal or start browsing crafty sites on your phone. Use the little bits of time that are essentially wasted every day. It adds up more than you’d realize.

Creativity -Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

Magazines are an amazing source of inspiration and are filled with many different styles of fashion, home decor, food, whatever. Find something you love but can’t afford? Knock that sucker off. In that type of a project you don’t even really need to be creative, just see it and imitate it as closely as you can. And feel free to carry a pic, your magazine, whatever into the store with you when shopping so that you aren’t trying to buy materials from memory only.

Also know that you will be affected by your surroundings. I work from home and I painted my office red a few years back. It was perfect and I loved it but I started getting calls from customers. “Is there any way we can start moving away from the red? I really like blue.” Yep, just about every project I worked on that year had red in it and most had red as the main color. All of the logos I worked on… red. So just keep this in mind when working on a crafty project. You will be influenced by the places you craft in.

Don’t be afraid to fail. This is my own personal motto: We can’t all do everything well but we won’t know until we try. Sometimes things are going to work out. Other times they are not. And every once in a blue moon, things will come together so much better than you could have ever anticipated. I can understand worry of failure when your materials are very expensive, but in crafting you can sometimes redo the project without too much trouble.

Is that painting you made horrible? Guess what, you can easily paint over it. Was that bright color you envisioned for a furniture makeover a bit brighter than anticipated? You can strip it and start over (it’s a lot of work but you can do it). That blanket you spent days or weeks on turn out ugly? There are TONS of people in unfortunate situations, including the homeless, who would be so happy to have it. I SUCK at po
lymer clay which I find odd because I used to make cake decorations out of fondant. But every once in a while I’ll try something out and if it fails, I just roll the clay back into itself and save it to try again another day. Never, ever be afraid to fail when it comes to crafting because even if you do, more often than not, it’s just not that big of a deal and you gained practice and knowledge that can help you in the future.

Creativity -Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

Go back through your crafty UFOs, or UnFinished Objects. Sometimes we stop working on something because things get too busy or we get frustrated with it. There are any number of reasons to abandon a project but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t any good. I went through my craft closet and really looked at things. I’ve seen this Spider Man painting I abandoned some time last year but I can’t for the life of me remember why. Seeing it made me instantly think how happy it would make my nephews and I started painting on it again within a few hours. I also found some granny squares I started. Both are great projects that require little creativity because I already worked out the plan. Now it’s just about finishing up with follow through.

I hear it all of the time. I can’t be crafty because I don’t know how. There are quite literally TONS of tutorials online to help you complete crafty projects. Nobody knows how to do these things instinctively. There’s no gene that gives you red hair and the ability to blow glass upon birth. Things have to be learned.

Some things you’re going to suck at and some things are going to be great at. But never, ever use the excuse because you don’t know how because in this day in age, with information quite literally at your fingertips, you could if you tried.

I hear this one all of the time, too. I have no time for crafts and you may very well not. My situation is different from most. I work for myself and I have no children so I’m going to have a considerable amount of free time that, say, a working mother would NOT have and I GET that. Truly. But everybody has some form of free time. Do you ever watch TV or read books? If you do then you have SOME free time. It’s all in how you choose to spend it. And even though there is this crafty revolution/age going on, if you choose to not do crafts, that’s okay, too.

But I’m a guy. Guys don’t do crafty! Shut your mouth and go visit Ty at Know and Tell Crafts, and check out Manmade DIY: a craft blog for dudes, and go hear Aunt Peaches preach all about the sexy, sexy celebrity men who knit (including your girlfriend’s dreamboat Ryan Gosling). And check out my favorite new super villain, totally a crafty dude, The Knitter. Okay, that one was kind of for fun.

Creativity -Ideas to Keep it Fresh & Consistent

I don’t have the money to be crafty! Some projects and craft hobbies are crazy expensive but you don’t have to do those if you have budgetary issues. There are lots of cheap materials. For example making things from felt is crazy inexpensive. Embroidery can be another very cheap hobby craft.

If you’re thrifty find things to make over with a coat of paint or some glitter. You can even browse the mis-tints in the paint section to find some interesting colors that are super, super cheap. See that metal file carrier and those sheets? I’m going to use the sheets as fabric for sewing. I got all of that stuff to craft with for $2.50.

Most hardware stores sell little tester pots of color and a lot of the time, that’s all the paint you need anyway. If you can sew, reworking thrifted clothes can wind up costing you nothing more than a few bucks for the item and a spool of matching thread. Last of all people are making stuff out of toilet paper rolls, people. Toilet. Paper. Rolls. There is always a way to be crafty on a budget.

In the end, the more creative things you do the more creative you will be. Creativity begets creativity.

Even if you begin exclusively mimicking projects you see online or in magazines or books, you’re allowing that creative part of yourself to grow. With that growth will most likely come your own creative ideas that you can act on. Just think of creativity as a muscle you’ve got to train. But if it doesn’t come to you so easily, that’s okay, too. There is nothing wrong with completing projects from kits or tutorials you see online. If you want to make something, make something.


Comments (14)

  • inkyring

    May 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Yay, Allison! All my life, I've read every craft book I could get my hands on. This is how I learn new crafts ; I read several books on the subject, then jump in with both feet! I'm not good with classes, too often they present only one way to do something and I'm a big fan of experimentation ! I agree 100% that creativity begets more creativity; it opens your eyes and becomes a part of who you are!

  • Allison Murray

    May 23, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    I am glad to know that we have very similar thoughts on creativity, Inky. Thanks much for taking the time to comment. Always love seeing you around the blog :)

  • Nash Khan

    May 24, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Wonderful tips Allison! :)

  • Jacob

    May 24, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    The creative side of home decor projects – that is something I'm looking to get more into. And thanks for the guy related links.

  • Allison Murray

    May 24, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Thanks, Nash!

  • Allison Murray

    May 24, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    I am glad you like the dude links, Jacob and I am also glad that you stopped by!!

  • Emily Ann

    May 25, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    This article is awesome! :) I often look on craftgawker.com and come across your blog ALL the time! O_o I'm going to bookmark it RIGHT NOW! Anyway everything you said I completely agree with! Thanks for posting! ;3

  • Allison Murray

    May 25, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    Thanks, Emily Ann. I look forward to seeing you around here!

  • Molly

    May 28, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Awesome!!! thanks!! you have a lot of great ideas!!

  • Allison Murray

    May 28, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    You're quite welcome, Molly!

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    May 31, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    What an inspirational post, Allison! I nodded my head at so many of these, in particular "Creativity begets creativity." Looking back at my beginning blog posts, it was a lot of me imitating projects I had seen on Pinterest. Now, I find my head is swimming with ideas for projects I haven't ever seen on Pinterest…but they came to me in part because I've immersed myself in creative activities for the past 9 months and it's now how my brain functions. It's always looking for new opportunities to create…whereas before, that muscle was SO out of shape. Thanks for sharing part of your creative process with us. I love these glimpses you give us!

  • Allison Murray

    May 31, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    I hear what you're saying, Lauren. It's amazing the difference in how easily the ideas come after some time being creative. :)

  • Sarah

    June 5, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    What a great post. You've given me some ideas to work with.

  • Allison Murray

    June 5, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    I am very glad, Sarah!

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