A Gentle Nudge Towards Creativity

Back in 2015 I jumped into the year with plans to try new things and cross things off my creative to-do list. I started the Make and Do Creative Challenge and invited anyone to join me in finally getting around to pursuing some creative dreams.

No one really jumped on board. Everyone was too busy to take on one more thing. I was disappointed, but I understood and eventually I let go of the challenge, too. I was craving single-mindedness, simplicity and focus. All of which are good things.

And yet... creativity isn't only about single-mindedness. Creativity isn't always focused on just one thing. Creativity has its own life, expansive, all-encompassing and full of joy.

When being creative in the kitchen brings you joy, but you don't take the time for trying new recipes and slow food because you're too busy with more serious things, you're robbing yourself of joy. The same goes for other types of creativity, too. Embroidery, knitting, writing, decorating, playing a musical instrument...

I used to crochet. I used to sew. When I first started my creative journey, those were my outlets.

crochet, crocheted jewelry, necklace, crocheted roses, crocheted leaves, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Over time I've spent less and less time on those things.

I have a HUGE creative to-do list, and yet that sort of creativity is almost always sidelined. Why?

I know there are limited hours in the day. We're all busy with all sorts of things all the time. But I also know that I waste plenty of time, too. I take more time with some things than is necessary. Simple adjustments (limiting the number of times I check my email each day, for example) can help expand my time. Scheduling my tasks. Doing one thing at a time. Organizing supplies and keeping them close at hand. All of that helps. As does focus. Mindfulness. Awareness.

Just before Christmas I managed to fit in some crafting without much fuss at all. I made some paper clay ornaments.

paper clay, crafts, handmade ornaments, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I made candles. I made soap. It felt good. And I surprised myself with how little time it took and how easy it was -- once I actually decided to do it -- to fit into my days.

And so, as I embark on my new year, I'm doing so with an intention of creativity, of joy. I don't want to call it a challenge because that's too competitive, too much pressure. For now I'll call it a gentle nudge towards creativity.

Gentle Nudge Towards Creativity, crafting, art, creativity, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And I hope I can nudge you, too.

I've already made some adjustments to my days to fit crocheting in during the evenings. I've finished one scarf and started on a shawl.

crochet, yarn, projects, creativity, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The yarn was just sitting in my closet waiting. It feels good to be using it.

I've been working in my sketchbook every day this month and that feels good, too.

And I've dug out some fabric and patterns.

sewing, fabric, crafts, supplies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Sewing is next on my list.

It's so easy to let inertia keep us from creating. Being too busy or too tired, but there's so much to gain from being creative that I'm making it a priority this year.

What have you been wanting to do or try? Maybe it's working in a sketchbook. Maybe it's sewing. Maybe it's painting with watercolors. Or trying new recipes (I think I have 6 cookbooks checked out from the library right now and I haven't made a single recipe from any of them...). Whatever it is, I encourage you to dive in. We can do this together.

Here are a few things I think will help:
  • Decide what it is you want to tackle first and focus on getting ready for that one thing
  • Decide what you can cut out of your days. Maybe it's checking emails. Maybe it's spending time on Pinterest or Instagram or elsewhere on the Internet. Maybe it's doing "research." Maybe it's watching Netflix (though you can do some things while watching TV or a movie... crocheting, knitting, sketching are all great for that). 
  • Make sure you have all of the materials you need and that they're ready to go (ex. the fabric you want to sew with is already washed).
  • Schedule some time for whatever it is. You might need one big (or not so big... when I made soap I think it took me less than an hour) block of time or maybe you want to spend a little bit of time each day on your project. Figure out what will work best for you and your project.
  • Do it!
I'd love to hear what you'd like to get up to. You can leave a comment here or email me.

Right now my intention is to make A Gentle Nudge a monthly feature on my blog. Writing about it here will help hold me accountable, and I hope, inspire you, too. I'll check in again in February to share how it went for me and to see how it went for you, too.


  1. I love the idea of a gentle nudge Anne! I have been busy nudging myself since I changed my mindset and focus on a healthier lifestyle last autumn. I wanted to make Kefir so I asked for a kit for Christmas and now have a delicious jar of it in the fridge! I have been creative in the kitchen trying out lots of new recipes and bought and used a hand held spiralizer to make courgette (Zucchini) spaghetti! I want to make soap again and an insulating cover for my cafetiere. Thank you for the nudge Anne. I think I will schedule these things in my diary so there is no excuse not to do them! Happy weekend. :)

    1. So glad that my idea resonates with you, Simone. Sounds like you're fully embracing trying new things! I've always been curious about spiralizers. I'd love to hear about your results with yours!

      Happy making!

  2. What a lovely article. It resonated with me because I feel exactly the same way. I retired a couple of years ago and always used a busy work schedule as an excuse for not crafting. I thought I would do so much more in my retirement years and yet the craft supplies I had accumulated continued to gather dust. So, last year I joined two meet-up groups-one focused on journaling/art and one on knitting and crochet. Those groups really helped to motivate me to start crafting. Then, at the start of this year, I enrolled in an online class to improve my sketchbook journaling, joined a monthly quilt class to get back into quilting, and purchased a design a month club to get back into embroidery. My crafting is now a mix of gathering with friends to share ideas and work together, as well as some solitary pursuits to keep me busy when I am home. It is a nice blend and I find a level of peace in my life that I get from working with my hands and creating something lovely (or often times something that is a "decent" attempt!). For too long, I left crafting for "when I had spare time" and that never seemed to arrive. So, I really try to make it a priority in my day. i also started bullet journaling last year and "crafting" is on my daily habit tracker. I will look forward to reading your monthly nudges to help keep me on track!

    1. Thank you, Shelly! I'm so glad to know my ideas resonated with you, too.

      Isn't it hard to fit things into our days. Sometimes the time just seems to disappear. I am so happy to know that you've made the time and fully embraced your making and doing! Wonderful!

      I look forward to hearing how you continue to embrace your making!

  3. I love that idea! I have tried challenges in the past to try to "jump start" certain things, but I have been too much of a perfectionist to complete them. I felt like if I wasn't perfect, I was failing. The pressure I put on myself was preventing me from being creative even on a small scale. This year I'm trying to be more flexible. I've worked regularly in my art journal, completed some portraits piece by piece, and have more projects on the horizon. (I hope to do more cross stitching and crocheting!) I'm being more mindful about how I spend my time by prioritizing what I want to accomplish and I definitely feel a little more at ease.

    1. Ah, perfectionism. It does have a tendency to stop us in our tracks. Overcoming that can be hard. But you're right that by working piece by piece and slowly building up we can accomplish a lot! So glad to know that mindfulness and working towards prioritizing what you want to do has been helpful for you! Keep going! And thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  4. For a while now I have taken a few minutes at the end of the day to decide on the top three things I want to get done the next day. I jot them down and in the morning, when I have renewed energy I know where to start. I try to include at least one creative thing “to do” on my list. Even if I just make some progress (rather than finish) a project it feels good! Now I will think of my list as a “gentle nudge”.

    1. So glad to know that my idea of a gentle nudge is getting incorporated into your practice, Karen. Planning out the day the night before is a great idea. Making progress is often the only way to get things finished. Bit by bit by bit. I hope that 2018 continues to bring day after day of creativity!


  5. Can I just tell you how much I LOVED this post?! "Gentle nudge" were apparently the exact words of encouragement I needed as I read your post yesterday morning and found myself in "the zone" that evening getting prepped for a free craft class I am taking tonight. Somehow, I dabbled in creativity and still got my night time chores done. Yes, it's so true that we can find time to squeeze creativity into our lives--and it's so important to do so!!! Thank you.

    1. Hi, Nicole! So glad you enjoyed the post! Isn't it funny how time expands when we need it to. Saying that we don't have enough time is usually not a good enough reason not to do something. There's always room in the day for creativity! I hope you continue to give yourself some gentle nudges!

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Oh....I absolutely loved this. And I am the same...there are many things I want to be doing but I spend a lot of time making lists of the things I want to be doing...rather than actually doing them. I look forward to your "creative nudges"! :)

    1. So glad to hear it!! I hope that you can get to the things on your list. Sometimes I know I need a big nudge to get out of the planning mode and into the making mode. Yesterday I finally got pieces cut out for a tunic I want to sew. It felt good to be moving forward.

      Here's to a year filled with creativity!


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