Idea Overload


Can You Relate? How to Deter Idea Overload!

It’s so exciting when you are ready to start a new project. Maybe to boost your wheels of creativity  you’ve attended a recent quilt show, googled images on your computer or made a trip to a quilt shop.  During those moments you’ve meandered up and down the aisles gazing upon one piece after another, or perhaps browsed the infinite number of images on the internet. You’ve invested a lot of time to collect all the insight possible, because you want to be fully prepared when it comes time to move full steam ahead on this new endeavor.  Then you eventually return to your sacred space designated for designing your new quilt; the birth of this amazing piece is just around the corner and then BAM mentally you’re combusting with the “how about this” and “what about that” statements.  The result is that you find yourself closing your eyes with a heavy feeling of anxiety and strong sense of being overwhelmed while silently saying this:     

I’ve been there and it really can suck the air right out of the “I can’t wait to start” feeling of a new project.  My secret to not letting this happen is simply this.  IF I’m starting a new quilt I deliberately don’t go to quilt shows, online, or into shops for inspiration.  This solution sounds a bit crazy but for me it works. It’s one thing to get a better understanding of how certain techniques are applied to a quilt, but quite frankly I don’t want someone else’s finished product to influence what I am going to create.  I find it way to easy for my brain to get overstimulated when I look at other quilters pieces; in order for my designs to feel organic I stick to my tried and true process of sketching.  So often we don’t give ourselves enough credit that we can come up with ideas without having to use designs we’ve encountered as a springboard for our personal art.  We presume gathering one idea upon another idea will make things easier, reassuring ourselves that several concepts are better than just one or two.  You may want to ask yourself “How is this working for me, am I mentally exhausted?”

Do you have any special ways you combat inspiration overload?

9 thoughts on “Idea Overload

  1. Hi Lisa, I love all your feedback and comments and inspiration. Thanks for sharing.You have just described where I am at now, so I am rethinking what to do. Here is my idea. I am going to decide which sites or teachers I am going with and ignore the rest for now, I have started a diary of what I want to do now and in the back ideas for later. I do not look at the back until I have finished my current one.Bit like spring cleaning the house and downsizing. I really like your thoughts on not attending shows etc. However- I am getting on and there is so much I want to do , sooooo much, so little time, so may ideas. Joanna (LOL)

  2. I doodle alot. My favorite is to doodle on transparencies or clear plastic bags as I can lay them on the quilt and see what happens. I find that helps me decide amongst the ideas

  3. I think maybe we were separated at birth, Lisa. I feel and think exactly the same thing! You can definitely get too much “inspiration” sometimes. When I do, it’s just overwhelming. I’ve only been quilting a couple of years, and it’s tough too see so many people’s beautiful work without feeling that mine is inferior somehow. I like to sketch my idea right when I have it, and I keep it around in my sewing room or in a notebook to refer to when I am tempted to change it, or give up. Thanks for the post! Helpful as always.

  4. I need a LOT of time to let an idea for a quilt top percolate in my brain. While the percolation is going on, I collect ideas and inspirations (photos of oil paintings/collages/architecture, etc.), my own sketches pulled out of my notebook, fabric swatches from my stash, articles on surface techniques, patterns for blocks, and so on. When I get down to actually beginning work on the quilt top, I review the items in the folder and immediately discard all those that will not apply. I limit myself to what remains and hope for the best. Trying not to rethink or second guess decisions is hard, but I generally end up with a quilt top that say, “Me” if I follow this process and I think that is the best any quilter can hope for.

  5. HI Lisa: Thanks for saying what I have experienced for some time! I would review ALL my designs and gather as much info as I could and then it might be another few days before I could get started quilting because I felt I was not good enough😳 to execute the design properly. I will now just go with what’s in my “old noggin” !!! Thanks so much. Louise

  6. So so true. I’m anticipating starting a new project after weeks of grandchildren, family &’travel( & golf!) I purposely have been avoiding new inspiration and want to draw on my own creative self…well, with a few inspirational photos chosen by the owners of this commission-to-be.

  7. Good day Lisa,
    For the most part I follow the same rules of thought…but there are times when I get in a creative rut (so to speak)…this is when I gravitate to other things such as quilt photos shows YouTube etc., for inspiration to jumpstart my creativity again.
    There are also times I can be in the middle of a quilt design and maybe because of a particular angle or block configuration…I get stumped that’s when I go to what I call my fabulous favs for inspiration or solution…and like clockwork I will find something to make the light bulb 💡 come on again!

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