Inspiration is a fickle beast. It can strike out of the blue and put you on top of the world or desert you when you need it most and leave you in the depths of despair.
I’ve found over the years that it comes in waves. I go through stages when I feel like an empty shell and couldn’t come up with a decent idea for a million pounds. And then a week later I’m bursting at the seams and can barely get one idea down on paper before the next has exploded into my head. And so it goes, round and round.
I used to try and summon ideas by sheer force of will, but have learnt that nine times out of 10 all that does is keep them at bay. Instead, I’m learning how to manage the flow of inspiration in and out of my head.
I have a scrapbook, two sketchbooks and iPhoto. The scrapbook came about when magazine tear-outs threatened to stage a coup in our house. It took a while to tame the paper, but it works really well and is full of pictures that sparked ideas for stitching projects and my dream house, complete with kitted out studio.
One of my sketchbooks has some good, some not so good ideas in it. It’s a “quick sketch” book of vague ideas, sometimes just a shape or a perspective sketch. My other, smaller book is for embroidery ideas and goes into quite a lot of detail about stitches and background fabrics, threads and colour. I often carry it on me and find it a most pleasant way to spend a summer lunch break in the park.
I bought a small, quality digital camera about a year ago and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made, along with my laptop and its iPhoto application. The camera is small enough to slip into a pocket and usually takes preference over bulky purses and the like. I generally find myself drawn to patterns, colours and shapes rather than things:
Of course, I still often find myself rummaging for till slips/tissues/travel cards and anything that will make a mark on said scraps of paper. But this is a common occurrence among crafters and I simply stick these into my sketchbook alongside all the other scribbles.
It’s these tangible records of my creative process that I turn to when inspiration deserts me. Sometimes my photos and sketches kick-start the creative process; other times it’s nice to just kick back and look at pictures.