Studio Notes: Sob! Where Did My Creativity Go?

There I am, driving 3-1/2 hours to a downstate wholesale gem show, my mind painfully blank. Where the heck did my creativity go, I wonder. Without that spark of creativity, without a dream, my mind has nothing to amuse itself with. So, it’s gonna be a boring drive.

This is a journey you have probably taken, yourself, as a jewelry maker. In fact, I made notes of my mental progression, mile marker by mile marker.

Creativity, Mile by Mile

Mile Marker 217: Yuck. I’m bored.

Mile Marker 216: Yuck. I’m bored

Mile Marker 212: Still bored.

Mile Marker 197: BOR-ing.

Mile Marker 188: These days I’m thinking for two. Myself and a neighbor who has dementia. I take care of him. And we have a lot of fun together, but thinking for two can be exhausting. Two households to maintain; two checking accounts to balance; two people to keep from wandering around aimlessly . . .

Mile Marker 174: Heck, I’m 65. Maybe I don’t need to be ambitious any more. Maybe I don’t need to prove myself. I mean, after all, who is creative after 65?

Mile Marker 170: Oh wait. I had an Aunt Lydia who moved to New York City at age 70 and put her career into high gear as a major art collector. When she died in her 90s, her collection was auctioned off at Sotheby’s.

Mile Marker 166: But my work sucks lately. Sucks, sucks, sucks. It’s just not very good. I’ve been slowing down, too.

Mile Marker 160: Maybe caretaking is a cop out. If I’m busy taking care of someone, then it is more noble than being creative. Right? And then there’s Kathy. Poor Kathy. Gosh. If she had been feeling better, she could have come along on this ride and I wouldn’t be thinking about being such a failure . . .

Mile Marker 158: Naaaaaw. My creativity helps pay my bills. I write 52 paid posts a year for Jewelry Making Daily. Plus I make jewelry for two galleries, and I teach . . . Heck. No wonder I’m worn out.

Mile Marker 149: Hmmm. Road kill.

creativity: monarch butterflies

Mile Marker 148: There sure were a lot of monarch butterflies fluttering along the road this summer. I hit a few of them with my truck and would go back and pick them up so that their lives weren’t wasted. Got a pile of ‘em in a dish at my bench. I wonder if I could use some clear resin and turn their wings into indestructible gems?

Mile Marker 130: I could add illustrations of the monarch’s entire life cycle and create a narrative necklace. And matching earrings of them emerging from a chrysalis, and maybe a cuff.

Mile Marker 124: Maybe sort of a clean, modernist look set in sterling and designed to last forever – glass and resin. Hmmm. I wonder if I could pitch this as a story to Lapidary Journal . . . Oh, and heck, write a post about “Sob! Where did my creativity go?”

Fast Forward: A Few Days Later

I’m visiting my friend Kathy. She’s seated for eight hours in a rather uncomfortable chair, and is for the moment tethered to a bag of red fluid. Known as Red Devil, it will make her sick as all get out in about 10 days. To help her kill time, I spend the afternoon with her at the cancer center and tell her about my recent angst as a creative jewelry maker. She’s a stained glass artist, herself, and lay pastor at her church – tasks that also require a tremendous amount of creativity. She also dreams up ideas for things her church can do to help the community and then gets those things done.

Suddenly I feel stupid with shame as I talk. My temporary loss of creativity is nothing compared to her struggle with cancer. Going blank is something that happens all the time to creative people. In contrast, she’s got months of chemo ahead of her. But, curiously, she seems extremely interested in the subject and brightens up.

“My pastor told me I need to come up with a new dream,” she says.

And we have a meeting of minds.

A creative dream, she explains. Something to keep her mind focused while she goes through the next three months of chemotherapy. A goal. A desire.

“The main thing I want to be is an encouragement to other people,” she says.

Want to read more about creativity?

Check out some of these links:

  • Find five things that block your creativity.
  • This site will link you to inspiring talks about creativity.
  • Check out books at your local library, such as The Craft of Creativity by Matthew Cronin and Jeffrey Lowenstein; The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield
  • The Artist’s Way, The Artist’s Way Workbook, and It’s Never too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron can be found at Amazon.

Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. You can reach her at

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