Writer's block is a well known problem which strikes even the best writers at times. This damming of creative flow also affects artists and artisans alike. How to break this log jam is therefore of common concern.

Pictured here is an example of a creative challenge that artisans could pose themselves in order to spark flagging interests. Donna of Sew and So designed this necklace from just two packets of beads she received together with a free magazine won in a drawing given on Katie Hacker's blog. Her three-stranded necklace design is separated in the front but she used the bead weaving technique for the rest of the necklace. Her full instructions for this necklace design can be found here.

I don't think Donna is ever stuck for inspiration but I am sure many of us have come up with a blank when designing. A reader and friend emailed me recently of her inability to get into the groove after the Christmas break so much so she is now "looking for a rut that needs her"! Don't despair - here are some practical tips to get you out of a design funk.

1. Take a break. Doing something else for a while is refreshing. Once rested, you'll be able to start again.

2. Don't think too much. Ever watch a teenager or child bead? They are fast because they don't agonise over every detail. They aren't perfectionists either.They just do it. So play with your beads.

3. Remove distractions. It's hard to concentrate if you're working in a noisy environment or if you are constantly interrupted . If possible, create a separate studio space for yourself. It doesn't have to be a dedicated room - perhaps a small corner somewhere.

4. Put yourself in the mood. If you are having a beast of a time trying to create, then try some favourite music in the background. As they say, "music soothes the savage beast".

5. Order new supplies. There is nothing like seeing or getting a whole lot of new beads to jumpstart your creativity. However, this may lead to creativity issues with your household budget (you're on your own on this one!).

6. Limit your choices. I had an English high school teacher who gave us five unrelated words and phrases to use in a creative writing exercise. Even after all these years, I remember some of them - three blind mice, bucket and piano, and how much fun I had writing that essay. Reduced choices is a way of focusing your attention. It certainly worked for Donna.

7. Change your environment. As they say, a change is as good as a rest. If you bead in a basement corner, bring up your materials and work in your dining room instead.

8. Make something simple and quick. Sometimes making an easy project rewards you with sense of accomplishment and motivates you to do the next thing.

9. Set a deadline for those who work best under pressure. If you're the kind who dawdles, this tactic often works for without a set date, a design can take forever to finish.

10. Use pen and paper. This tip is often cited by writers accustomed to composing on the computer. The same applies to artisans - switch your design medium. If you've always designed using a bead board, designing on paper and doodling might lift you out of your doldrums. Or try a design software program like Fire Mountain Gems' free Virtual BeadBoard Designer.

11. Tidy up your workspace. By going through your bead stash and clearing the clutter on your workspace, you will accomplish two things : a space to work and finding "lost" treasures you may have forgotten about. Either may get you going again.

12. Browse. Curl up somewhere comfy with a cup of tea or coffee, enjoy reading your favourite jewelry-making books and magazines for inspiration. If you like being on the computer, read your favorite blogs, chat up a storm on a forum and do some general surfing on the internet.

13. Learn or switch to a different technique. Many artisans are accomplished in more than one technique. So if you are a beadweaver for instance, doing a spell of chain maille is a good change. Learning a new technique often invigorates flagging creative spirits. There are numerous tutorials,both written and in video format out there to be discovered.

14. Social Network. Designing is usually a solitary occupation. But you can up the fun quotient by beading with a friend or in a group. The support and opinions of your fellow beaders can chase away any lingering doubts and boost your confidence. Who knows? A shared bottle of wine could also loosen design inhibitions besides tongues!

15. Remember who you are designing for helps focus wondering thoughts. Their personal likes and dislikes should factor into your work. If you are designing for sale at craftshows, then knowing your target market (upscale art show or middle of the road Christmas Fair?) will direct your choice of materials and perhaps techniques.

16. Keep a book of ideas. You never know when your creativity is at the crest. So when the going is good, jot down all those good ideas for a time when you are fresh out. I keep my ideas in an exercise book - just doodles really which may or may not come to life.

So what are your favorite ways of of reving up your creativity?

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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