In the Mood

Sewing costumes

I hate to sound all posey and arty but creativity isn’t like turning on a tap – you can’t always just turn up and do it.  For many things you have to be in the mood.

It sounds like a bit of an excuse and all too often the needs of the artistic soul just sound like the whine of a work-shy layabout – but it’s not always the case.


Years ago – before the children, when I could still string words together in a manner that made sense, I used to write short stories for a weekly magazine.  I looked on it as a proper job and didn’t sit around waiting for the creative moment to arrive.  I didn’t accept that writer’s block or lack of inspiration as real things – Instead, I found ways around it.  I asked friends and family to give me random words to act as prompts that might spark off an idea for a short story.  When I became a regular at the magazine the editors used to send me photographs as inspiration and that worked really well for me.  Sometimes true creativity struck, other times I worked at it.


Much the same is true of crafting.  How many of us have got WIPs (works in progress) hidden in the bottom of the wardrobe waiting for inspiration or the energy to pick them back up again?  Often, with crafting, the demotivating factor is having to find a clear space to work, then get and assemble all the necessary equipment before you can start.  And then there’s the clearing up afterwards!  That ‘chore’ factor can completely overwhelm any nascent creativity.  It’s a real mood killer.  It’s why all crafters should find a way to have a craft area that doesn’t need clearing away at the end of the day.

My daily workspace with machines and materials right to hand

The coalface – where it all mostly happens


Dancing is another area where the loss of mojo has a huge impact.  It’s hard to get into the music, or find a working choreo when your head if filled with other stuff.  But like writing and crafting, dancing can be coaxed back into life with the right conditions.  Dancing with a mate, doing tiny amounts of practices, or having a hafla deadline all help creativity happen!  Sometimes just standing in your lounge jigging away, or doing drills reawakens your dance spirit and you begin to see the positive light at the end of the mojo-less tunnel. Of course, as many experienced dancers know, Gin works too!


I like to think of my work as a hugely creative process, but I know it’s also plain ordinary work.  I work well with deadlines – I guess it’s a legacy form the days of bridal alterations in a shop.  When you had a serious of fittings lined up those dresses had to be ready.  But that’s just ‘doing’ sewing it’s not really creative.  The creative end of sewing is a whole other animal!  I can’t speak for others but my creativity is seriously compromised by external factors – when the machines play up, when it’s too cold, when the fabrics are horrid, when it’s a ‘makeover’.  They are the things that make me avoid the ‘jobs in hand’ rack.

Fortunately there are real motivators.  Sometimes it’s a bright idea that just has to be made, sometimes it’s an interesting commission, sometimes if a fabulous piece of fabric that begs to be worked with.  Sometimes it’s all of it together!

In recent months I’ve lost my mojo.  I’ve done what I’ve had to do, and that’s it.  Oh I’ve spent a lot of time in the workshop tidying and sorting and planning and preparing and bundling fabric together into hopeful packs of what might work together.  But I have not been really CREATIVE.  And I am frustrated at being so mundane.



I’m missing it.  I’m missing those moments when it all comes together – when a bright idea crashes into the workshop and a perfect marriage of fabric, style, trim and sparkle is created.  I am working – the wolf-at-the-door is always just around the corner, after all – but I’m just going through the motions ‘doing’.  I’m being creative by numbers, rather than exploring ideas and notions.  I am missing the joy of the moment when you realise it’s all going to work.


My mojo will come back – it’s a bit of a homebody – I’ve spoken before about the septic tank of life  where real life and external forces can spoil your whole day, week or year.  I know this will pass when things change, but until then I will still keep looking for the key to the ‘work in progress wardrobe door’.

What gets you motivated, what purifies your creative reservoir?