When I unplugged back in March I needed more than a break from the internet and the blog. I had a huge project to tackle, creative batteries in need of serious recharging, and a desire to get back to who I am (versus who everyone expects me to be for them.) This little critter here is an example of things I was missing. Over the last couple years I'd gotten so busy that I wouldn't have said okay when my kid said, "Mom, come outside and see this cool bug."
I stopped burying myself in have-tos and must-dos. I started going outside again, and taking pictures of cool bugs. I wandered a little every day, not to search for anything specific but to be open to inspiration. That cool bug (only the second mantis I've seen since we moved here) inspired a character in the novel I just finished; one who turned out so well that my client complimented me for it.
Would I have created the character without seeing the cool bug? Maybe -- but it probably would have taken longer, and the character might not have been as original. Taking five minutes to admire and photograph this little critter was just for fun, but it helped me with the work, too.
Since I am the least random person I know, I spent a couple of months doing very random things. I ordered a mystery box of modern fabric (which I don't use) and got a bunch of very graphic fat quarters in black and white with touches of gold. You should have seen my face; I've never made a black and white quilt. The point of the exercise, however, was to get out of my fussy old lady crazy quilting color junkie corner and try something new, so I made the fabric into this quilt.
The process made me appreciate modern fabrics; their deceptively simple patterns become classy and vibrant when you start putting them together. The challenge of making such graphic materials work together taught me some new tricks. Since I'm now set on making a true black and white quilt, I think it expanded my horizons a bit, too.
We tend to get complacent with our creativity. I've been doing the same things over and over because I'm pretty good at them, I don't have to think about the work involved much, and the results are predictable and positive. Whether it's quilting or writing or anything, there's nothing wrong with sticking to what you know. That said, unless we try new things once in a while, we can't grow.
What have you done lately to seek new sources of inspiration? Let us know in comments.