the creative sprint part 2 : the part where you have to start

Following up on last week’s post – I so appreciated hearing  your thoughts and comments – I know how hard it is and I wanted to offer you a couple more simple ideas besides the creative sprint  (aka the  activity bomb) for getting past the stuckness, the overthinking and a little bit of a challenge……  Procrastination has nuances and flavors – I am a lifelong connoisseur of them.  And  it comes in a variety of disguises.  There are all sorts of ways to get passed it – different things that work for different kinds of stuckness and people.  For me what matters most is that I take some – almost any – action.  It’s a scientific fact:

“A middle aged craft lady at rest tends to stay at rest and a middle aged craft lady in motion tends to stay in motion.”

I constantly have to trick myself into action.  The first is the hardest – it’s much easier to keep going than to start.  I’ll tell you about 2 first steps I rely on:

Baby steps –  gather supplies, or thread the needle, write the first sentence – commit even just 15 minutes. Repeat.

Create accountability – this blog, my business, the work I do all sprung from a need to prod myself into doing my own creative work. You are my accountability partner.

And it’s never over – it’s a life long challenge. Today I’ll commit to two things I haven’t been able to get myself to do.  The first is my daily  painting and drawing practice. It’s such a hard thing but so good for me – in fact I think it is one of the most important things I have done for my creativity in a decade. But – it is so often a huge pain in the ass to accomplish. I took a break and slippery sloped myself into abandoning it. I’ll begin again this Sunday. Just  thinking about it makes me anxious.

Damn. Now I have to do it…..  See how this works!

edwardian bird

The other is this bird. I started him about 9 years ago. And he’s been hanging around judging me even since.  I’m really not sure what happened here – I got stuck on some little detail and then got weird about it. I’ll show him to you all finished on Tuesday.

If you feel like committing to something – to taking some action  –  it could be as small as gathering supplies in a box or putting in 15 minute a day  – state your intention in the comments and I’ll see you here on Tuesday – you can report your progress,  share a link- whatever you like.

Update:  I accomplished both my tasks – it was painful  and I’m so glad i did it –  the victorian bird is finished and I began my daily painting and drawing practice on Sunday.  I’ll post the sketchbook every Saturday and you can checkout the victorian bird here.

How did you do – did you get something unstuck?


  1. Thanks needed, this too make me go on an create as too at least 15 minutes a day, me thinking about making it better, etc, makes me too anxious, the bears the bears, while I finish one an give him away, an makes smiles from them, really pleased. must stick too them, no mind wondering here an there. do it love your designs soooooooo much

  2. Sharon Lake

    Hi Ann,
    I love your blog and all your projects! Just looking at it gives me inspiration. Daily writing will be my project to do. I journal most days but getting down to other writing I don’t. Thank you for the inspiration!Sharon

  3. I love this thread on your blog. I have been stuck since my Dad passes 3 years ago. Not because I was overly sad, but I had used so much of my creativity keeping him up beat, laughing, and engaged. I was exhausted. This winter we had one of the coldest, snowiest, and longest one in 20 years. Days of being housebound and stuck. I did just what you said last week. I gathered some supplies, sorted my scraps, started piecing hexagons. I have no desire to make a hexagon quilt, but it got my mind thinking about I might want to do. Baby steps………

    • I lost my Mum last year and it’s coming up on 1 Year this weekend. My creative spark had diminished before she died as I was so involved trying to help her as she struggled with dementia. Being creative has ebbed and flowed this past year. Being creative is being happy and I think I feel guilty about being happy, as inside I am still very sad. But being creative also helps me through the loss so therein lies the problem. I made Mr Socks recently and was delighted with him. I want to make another for a friend, so I’m going to make that my creative challenge x

  4. Cecelia Brandt

    Just looking at your beautiful creations brings a calmness to me, I can’t explain it .
    You do inspire me to pull out some old material ,needle and thread….I start my gathering.

  5. Haha! Newton’s first law of middle aged cafters. I guess his second law would say something about a firm kick in the butt will directly affect the acceleration of the middle aged crafter. 🙂

  6. My best friend and I have challenged each other to do art everyday. We try to post it on our Facebook page. It has helped us get out of the midwinter doldrums. I even made some of your pine trees.

  7. Cindy Armstrong

    I made the tiny rag doll…but she’s been hanging around stark naked and baldheaded for a while. She can’t even glare accusingly at me about it because she hasn’t any eyes. I resolve to end her distress, make her wee wardrobe, and give her a face. I hope I will be able to report back in a positive manner. Oh dear.

  8. Ruth Hoefert

    I like this idea, committing to fifteen minutes a day, keeping track of that time. Thank you for showing your unfinished bird, I have realized that finishing can be one of my problems. I need to assemble my first of your horse pattern, figure out how to finish (and do it!) a decopauged cylinder, figure out a center piece to put in a paper mache frame and get back to working on a cross stitch baby afghan for my daughter. Lately, some new creative ideas are popping into my thinking. I need to try some new projects-just start.

  9. Thank you so very much for this! It really helps to know that I am not alone. It is also very important to hear that this will plague me for my whole life. When I get past it and I am creating easily, I believe the lie that it is over for good. It never is and never will be. I am beginning to get past, but it is a tall mountain this time.
    Thank you again. Your words, all of them, mean so much to many.

  10. I love that little bird, he looks like a starling. Can’t wait to him finished.

  11. I have similar problems with my work, it definitely helps when you set yourself the task of completing even just one thing in a day or sometimes for me, in a week. I a moving studios shortly and in the midst of packing and cleaning, finding lots of unfinished projects. I have had one of your boats half finished for 4 years or so. I am going to finish it this coming week. It is great to have a good purge of unused and excess items. I am looking forward to setting up a more streamlined studio in the new space. I very much enjoy reading your blog and getting a glimpse of your process. Thank You.

  12. I’m making fabric butterflies for a group of ladies from our church who will be attending a ladies conference together in June. I have about a dozen bodies made (I think I might need 15) but I haven’t tackled the bodies yet. I’ll cut out a pattern from freezer paper and get to that this weekend! It’s been bothering me but not enough to dislodge the cats from my lap and do it! (The pattern is at if anyone is interested.)

  13. These two posts about the creative sprint have been so helpful to me. Thank you! I’ve been struggling for a long time with attempting to re-establish my art practice and have just recently found my way back in to the work. In sharing your own challenges and strategies, you have provided much needed encouragement. Thank you again!

  14. Sonia simpson

    I want to make a keepsake for a relatives baby who was born prematurely and died a few days late , actually at the same time my second grandson was born. I have a design a image of luca holding mum’s finger and a verse to embroider over it. I’ve been ill since christmas and have a million things I want to do. But tomorrow I’m going to get to my studio in the garden get my materials together and START x

  15. Liz Van Buren

    Yaaaay! I loved seeing your daily art and so glad you’re getting back to it. I look forward to seeing the blackbird newly born. xo

  16. Sandy Belt

    I can’t youngest daughter died in August..I try my handwork has always been my safe place but I start and hate it start and think it is stupid it is nothing..I need help any ideas. . Do you have patterns for your birds..they look comforting? Do you do online classes..any help welcome

    • My heart is with you. Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is very gentle unblocking. And you can take as long as you like over each of the steps. Just be very gentle and loving with yourself. You will arrive when you need to. X

  17. After finding I was married to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, my creativity fell to zero. Seven months later I was wandering sadly around the quilt store and saw a precut kit for a …pillowcase.

    I thought, I can do THAT! A hundred (no exaggeration) pillowcases later, I am back to my creative brainstorms. All it took was color and a purpose (nursing homes and childrens units) to get started again. I still love my pillowcases…

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