an argument for silly and a creative exercise for you

A great way to get past the musts and shoulds and assumptions that can limit you creatively is to shift your approach. Even temporarily adopt a perspective that helps you follow impulses and bypass reasons not to, shake things up. Try starting with silly. Silly tricks you into trying stuff that might not work which is what it is to be creative. That is also how you get somewhere new. Ask yourself silly questions, mess around, be absurd. Absurdity is rich ground. Just sayin’.

You might end up somewhere unexpected, making a connection that you had not before. It might wake something up in you or push you past a block. Your creative muscle grows and you can apply that strength to all your work.

silly bug dolls on my work table

I spent time playing with the idea of silly bug dolls this week. I’m getting my imagination in shape to teach again in September in New Hampshire. Silly helps me unclench my thinking. I got pretty silly.

mosquito and beetle rag dolls on my worktable

Play is creative. Clenching down hard on trying to make something awesome often isn’t and is not usually effective at bringing your personal magic into the world. Nobody is more creative than you. And absolutely nobody has what you have inside you. I’m a firm believer in exercising your mind to develop skills to get to all that. As much as you can. Play is an important part of that.

mosquito rag dolls

So I offer you this challenge, make a silly bug in the next week. Why bugs? Because they are a rich place to experiment, the huge variety of weird anatomies can inspire all sorts of possibilities. There are lots of places to start and they are ideal for improvisational thinking.

silly bug club

So buggy in here!

If you feel like sharing post your silly bug on instagram with this tag: #sillybugclub.

And you don’t have to sew your silly bug. You can, but you don’t have to, it can be anything. Make it out of post-it notes and paper clips if you like, that would be great, the less you have to work with the more creative you have to be and that is what we are concerned with.

Do it! Get the benefit of a mini assignment, spend some time playing and trying stuff. There ended up being a lot of joy in making silly bugs for me. That’s nothing to sneeze at either.

mosquito dolls in conversation


  1. Debra Grove

    Your mosquitoes are the first I have ever loved! Your talent and approach are beyond amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Susan Jonsson

    I LOVE your insects and hope with all my heart to make some too! Thank you so much for this brilliant idea!

  3. peta davies

    I enjoy your blog very much. Sometime ago you attached a template for making papier mache teacups which I faithfully saved and can no longer find! I wonder if you could forward a link for me to find it again on your blog.
    Many thanks, Peta

    • The tea cup is right on this site under “free patterns.”

  4. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your creative gifts, problem solving and ideas about getting past internal barriers. I love your blog and newsletter. Your silly bugs are hilarious!

  5. Love it love it love it love the Silly Billy Bugs! Well done Ann

  6. I love the bugs they are great fun
    I’m not the best at Instagram
    Do I post my bug on my own page with the tag?

  7. What fun! What absolute, unimportant fun! Thank you for the reminder that creativity does not need to be stodgy or serious.

  8. I’m late to the game but I think this was good advice and what I need to get a blanket done that I have been dragging my feet on. I need a silly project or bug to get back into wanting to finish something not so silly. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Dear Ann,
    So glad I found your website today. For several reasons I’m going through a hard time at the moment.
    Your emphasis on having fun, playing and experimenting while making art is exactly what I need right now. Thank you so much.
    All the best, Lara

  10. […] this fallow period is normal and natural and that creativity will blossom again before too long.As Ann Wood puts it: “Clenching down hard on trying to make something awesome … is not usually […]

  11. mary crownhart

    I am making picnic bugs for our young Great Grandkids…. they can have a quarantine picnic!!
    anxious to buy your crow pattern. I just made mushrooms for my sister
    Love your patterns, Mary

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