Creative Diversions


I have always had what my husband calls, “busy hands syndrome”. He has it too, and so do our kids. We always need a creative project outside of work. For nearly two years my “outside project” was the design of our renovated home. Every detail came down me, including all the built in designs, how the kitchen functioned, trim profiles, all of the little things that go into making a home feel thoughtful and well-designed. It took most of my hours outside of work and maybe a few from my work days (understatement). Building and designing are in my blood. But truthfully, our home project felt a little bit too much like work to be a “creative project outside of work”. I’ve been an interior designer for over 25 years, so I tend to crave something different.

If I can’t create what I see in my mind’s-eye on paper or I can’t translate my motifs into the patterns I am envisioning, I have to take a break. Not just a break for a cup of tea. A “busy hands” break. I look to other creative activities that I enjoy. I’m pretty in tune with my natural rhythms, so the minute I start to feel myself losing focus on a work project, I have a natural reflex to shift my creative gears and do something totally different. It almost always helps. For me, the top two activities are baking and sewing.

close up of woman's hands holding loaf of homemade bread

One key ingredient for making this technique work is that the outcome cannot be important.

Baking is so satisfying for me. It’s not always easy or successful, but it takes me out of my current work conundrum and commandeers my creative brain for a short period of time. One key ingredient for making this technique work is that the outcome cannot be important. Baked goods can be tossed if they are awful. The pressure is off. I don’t sew things I can’t pull apart and restitch. Nor do I hem a dress for an important event (remember those from way back in 2019?). I choose recipes I want to test out or sewing projects that are great if they work and not the end of the world if they don’t.

image of woman's hand close up feeding black fabric through a sewing machine

The idea that the creative endeavor is a challenge for me is important— this way I have to pay attention.

The second key to making this technique work? I tend to take on baking and sewing projects that are just slightly above my level of expertise. Baking a chocolate roll was difficult and I tried at least 5 times before I successfully rolled it without it sticking to the paper. Thats a lot of crumbled cake! (still tasty though!) The idea that the creative endeavor is a challenge for me is important— I have to pay attention this way. I can’t put it on auto-pilot and forget whether or not I added baking powder! I have to stay present-focused.

Being present focused and creative, for me, clears the energy that was keeping me spinning my wheels on work projects and surface designs. After I’m done with my mini creative diversion and have enjoyed the most amazing macaroon treat, I happily head back to the studio and the creativity and patterns just seem to flow. I sometimes wonder if it’s creative success in a different area that builds confidence, but no matter, it works for me.

I love having a few go-to things like sewing and baking that help me reset and reinvigorate my creativity. How about you? What are the creative outlets that clear your creative energy and keep you at your creative best?


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