Firestarter Friday: Finding your groove — and staying there

If I had $3,400 to blow, this is how I would get organized.

If you were here late Wednesday or Thursday, you got to see shots of me making a mess. A contained mess, but still a mess. Even though I had 2 projects on tap I was really excited about, it was actually a bit tough to get downstairs and get rolling. My husband was home and L was in bed, so it was reaaaally tempting to hang out on the couch and watch TV. But that is exactly why I set up this blog — accountability and motivation. And Wednesday posts are the easiest. So once I made cocoa, I headed downstairs for some painting.

Once I added some layers to my wall piece and the base layer for my postcards, I sat down and looked at my phone. An hour and a half blew right by! I know time flies, but I thought it was more like thirty minutes, certainly not ninety. But I was having so much fun and I was in a good groove, so time really flew by.

It can be hard to get into that kind of mindset. Many of you have a full-time job (or several jobs), a kid (or a few) and many other things you have to juggle. There is that beautiful dream that you have a spacious, organized craft space full of wonderful natural light. When you walk in, everything is where it needs to be and your brain is clear and ready to create. That’s just not realistic for most people. And the people who DO have that have worked hard to get there. So what the heck are normal people supposed to do? First, take a deep breath. You can get there. Not tomorrow, but start with small steps, and you can find your rhythm more quickly and maintain a good workflow. Grab a pen and paper and we can start.

First, creative space. This is a sticky, touchy subject. A lot of people really, truly do not have money or space for a real craft room. I have been there. Our last house had zero space for an official craft room. And I also know what’s it’s like to have less than no cash for something like organization or furniture. Don’t let that discourage you. This is where you zone out all the amazing, over-the-top spaces you have seen and think of you. Write down the creative things you most love to do. Follow that up with a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Here is an example:

I love to sketch landscapes.

I need paper, a firm surface, pencils, an eraser, colors and reference photos.

I would also like a really good light, an inspiration board and a way to store my best work.

Now that you have your list, you can dream up your space. By leaving parts of this list open-ended, you are giving yourself more flexibility. Notice where I said I need a “firm surface”. This doesn’t mean I need a big desk. Something as simple as a drawing board would suffice. That already opens up a massive amount of possibilities for creative spaces. Instead of needing several square feet for a desk and chair, you’re now down to a few inches of vertical or horizontal space plus a place to sit. So now you think more creatively. Your space could be in the living room, kitchen, or even laundry room. Add a clip-on Ott light and a bulletin board on the wall, and you have a space that’s all yours.

Keeping your tools and supplies organized doesn't require fancy or expensive supplies. On the left is the crayola box I have had for-ev-er. It was headed for the trash my freshman year of college. It has since held papers, paints and most recently, yarn. It has even been through the mail a few times, and it's still going strong. On the right, my go-to plastic boxes. I got these during an after school clearance for 25 cents each.

Finally, make sure you keep that space in okay order. Everyone has different levels of tolerance for messes, and everyone needs their space organized differently to function. Once again, look to other spaces for inspiration and then be really honest about what works for you. I love seeing sewing spaces like this one, but it would be a cold day in hell when I could function in there. I like to have more stuff out where I can see it, and I’m not that anal retentive about putting things away. So whatever works for you, use it. Get things in a regular, predictable place. And make sure no matter what you do to store things, make sure you love your space. You should feel inspired as soon as you pull out your supplies.

Keeping supplies on hand doesn't have to be expensive either. On the left is a vase I got for $3 at an antique store. I actually bought it because I love the shape and color. Now it's next to my bed filled with drawing tools. I do a large part of my sketching, figuring out ideas and making lists here, so it makes sense to be prepared. On the right, my super, super cheap organizers. Yes, that is the bottom of a plastic milk jug. I have a few of them in my pantry for sorting really small stuff. This same idea could work great for organizing small supplies that you need to get to quickly.

By taking these few steps, you have done the biggest part or starting a good creative rhythm. Once your free time comes, get right to your space. Your supplies are ready, so there’s no reason not to dive right in.

But there is another part to setting up good work flow. Once you do find the time to get to business, try your hardest to force doubt out of your head. It’s too easy to overwork something in your brain. Is this perfect? Should I try A instead of B? What if this doesn’t turn out exactly right? Ignore those voices of negativity, this is not their time. This may sound really hard, but just like everything else, it takes practice. As you carve out more time to practice your art, this flow if ideas becomes second nature. You just know what you want to do next, and you do it. When you really are stuck and needing a break, you will just naturally step back and take a break.

So if you need something to do this weekend, start thinking about what you can do to improve your own workflow. If you need to designate a space, do that. If you already have a space, how can you make it work better? Things can always improve, but only if they are always reexamined.


  1. As late as this comment is, this post is really timely for me. As a messy, distracted crafter with a full-time job, a flat to renovate and too much stuff in a small space, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to organise what I’ve got to help me get things done. I’d been approaching it from the other direction – what do I need to have to store what I’ve got? – but the approach of “what do I need in order to function makes much more sense. Great food for thought, thanks 🙂

    1. It’s always nice to know that someone else is in the same boat. I like to pretend I have it all figured out, but then I look at my house and realize I still have a loooong way to go. But if we BOTH keep working hard, something good will come of it!

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