A little inspiration for creative block

I've been having some trouble creating lately. For months I've been going into my sewing room, pulling out my fabrics, and trying to think of what to make. And then I get up and walk out. Unless I have a specific goal (that new porch swing needs a cushion), what's the point?

I saw an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) recently where she talks about why you should create. Not for money, not to "help" people, not to make it your career--because you love it. (She also mentions how you'll have to eat shit sandwiches no matter what--even if you're doing something you love. Also important to know.)

So the question is, how to get over that mental block? This summer I met a yoga teacher who's interested in yoga therapy for artists. Her advice? Just play with scraps. That was June and this is October, but this weekend, I finally did it. And I had so much fun! Such a rush from making these two little potholders out of scraps and old jeans! Who knew? The general message here for anyone who wants to start something--anything at all--is to start small.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what kinds of things I really want to do, that will actually give me some genuine fulfillment. One thing I've realized is I need to start interjecting some fun into my life in small ways. Like listening to podcasts while I work. Or finding inspiration from other creative people. In addition to craft therapy, here are a few things that have been helping:

lifestyle/artsy inspiration:

Scott Dinsmore's TED talk on finding work you love: A short inspirational talk that focuses on the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are doing things that inspire you.

Design Sponge: I've been reading this blog since 2006, and it's still going strong. I love the house tours (who doesn't want to peek inside other people's homes, especially ones with really great style?), the before and afters (I'm a sucker for a good furniture makeover), and I'm also enjoying the cool new trends emerging, like a focus on fine artists and creative businesses.

Apartment Therapy: Another longtime favorite. This blog covers a lot of territory, from how to select the best modern couch to how to do a really thorough closet clean-out. And of course, they also do house tours, featuring a really wide variety of locations and styles.

My Name Is Yeh: Molly Yeh is a fun, quirky musician who lives on a farm in North Dakota and is making some really delicious-looking food that draws from her Chinese and Jewish heritage. And she's only 25! 

discussions of real questions/issues:

Inside Appalachia podcast: This is helping with my continual quest to understand why people want to stay close to home, but it's also really nice to hear about people who love this place and still return to it and make work about it while living elsewhere.

Dear Sugar podcast: A radio show hosted by Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) and Steve Almond, where they read and analyze letters from listeners seeking advice, sometimes drawing on their own experience and sometimes calling another person to consult on the issue. Their perspectives are nuanced and understanding, and even if you don't have the problem they're discussing, just listening helps you understand humanity a little bit more.

Death, Sex & Money podcast: Created by native West Virginia Anna Sale, this show is about topics people tend not to discuss openly, including mental illness and the obvious issues listed in the podcast name. 

Ask Polly: A weekly advice column written by Heather Havrilesky for New York Magazine's The Cut. Heather is real, she's bold, and she swears like a sailor. I love her way of encouraging people to really get into life and be vulnerable and take risks and try to be authentic and true to themselves. This column comes out around 1 pm on Wednesdays. (Or you could be crazy and just subscribe to it.)