Hello all! It's brings me great joy to be sharing this post with you guys from my good friend and utter needlework whizz kid Leigh Jennings! She's sharing some invaluable advice to keep you lovely lot in the highest of spirits over the next few busy months! Whether you’re a hobby crafter or a one-man band business entrepreneur, we’re coming up to that bonkers time of year that is sure to zap the energy out of even the most positive of beings. Christmas, especially the lead up, can be the most hectic and the most stressful time for makers and creators. Your head is filled with ideas for new festive pieces, your lists of things you’d like to make are getting longer - perhaps you’re also trying to keep on top of your day job, keeping up with your everyday orders with your business or prepping yourself for festive markets, all the while trying to keep on top of social media and try and convince the world you’re doing ok. It can get a little tough out there and I for one have learnt the hard way in the past. For many years I’ve struggled with some illnesses that can be debilitating, in order to stay afloat during the dark days, the hard days and the festive days, I’ve learnt a few short cuts. Here’s a few tips that may help nudge you back to rays of sunny motivation: Get organised. Desk building up with stuff? Lost your 10 pieces of scrap paper with all your lists on? Wondering where the week’s gone? Stop. Take a breath. Maybe have a little therapeutic cry, then sit down with a cup of tea. Take some time to organise through your piles, bin what you don’t need and plan what you do need. What’s the most important thing that needs to be done, and in what time scale? Be realistic before you start that to-do list. You might have a wonderful plan to hand crochet everyone a hat for Christmas, but if you’re struggling with your current day to day jobs, it might not be the top of the list right now. How can you dream up new ideas if you’re worrying about everything you need to catch up on? When your daily routine becomes more manageable, then you can worry about how to make that glorious cake you found on Pinterest. Find help, and don’t be scared to ask for it. If you’re battling the blues, staying motivated to even stay awake during the day can be a struggle – let alone dreaming up the most fantastical diy that has ever been invented. So be realistic and don’t be so hard on yourself. Look after yourself first and foremost, your health is more important than learning to turn rocks into diamonds because you saw it on Pinterest. Once your head space is calm, seek out other creative beings to help spark a little creative energy. Sometimes, a cup of tea with your best friend, a little drawing break between paperwork or five minutes to do something out of your routine can often knee-jerk a reaction in that colourful part of your brain that sparks a wonderful idea. Try to avoid seeing ‘perfect’ social media photos. This might seem an odd request that if you’re struggling with creative motivation, to avoid Instagram etc, but, sometimes, this can actually be more harmful. More often than not, we might find we compare ourselves to someone’s beautiful selfies, perfectly positioned objects for seemingly easy diy’s or mega tidy houses. Social media is edited by everyone – we, generally, only post our highlights - so comparing yourself during an off day, wishing you were as proactive or fantastically creative as your favourite instagrammer, can just make you over think your own worth and often, just make you a bit miserable. Research. Following on from avoiding social media on your bad days, when you’re feeling ready to get creative again, when you have your pen poised at your notebook, research – in all forms – is the best. An object, a building, a plant, a models babein’ face, a dress, a tea cup, a grumpy dog, a shape, a colour, a texture – if you have a creative mind then you’re very fortunate, you see your surroundings in a different way. Take note, take pictures, read an artist’s book, find something new on Pinterest or go back to that pristine Instagram you love and write down why you do. You’ll soon find that little excited buzz that you’ve been missing. Remember, you can do anything, but not everything. Above all, look after yourself. If you’re feeling an artist’s block – it’s ok! It’s totally natural and we all go through it. See it as a day off you accidentally have to take. If you’re getting the start of a stress-induced cold then listen to your body, you’re probably doing too much and you’ll never find that creative eureka moment if you’re over worked and over tired. We all have that list of new crafts we want to learn, those beautiful diys we want to crack and that to-do list of new products we know we’ll be millionaires for – but all in good time. Best of luck creative pals. And if you’re still feeling a little stuck, there’s a wonderful new group over on Facebook by a rather brilliant young lady … THANK YOU Leigh! You can follow her beautiful Instagram feed here, keep up with her tweetings here, read her little blog here and, most importantly buy her beautiful creations right here. xo.