I want to want to quilt! I really do. But quilting time competes with all other parts of life, and some times it doesn’t win. It isn’t just the matter of time, either. In fact, I have a lot of that. What I don’t have in spades is the type of energy that allows creative focus for longer stretches.

Since mid-April, I’ve made four quilt tops and their backs. When I’ve had inclination to “quilt,” the projects have been simple, not stretching my creative muscles very far. One is a Delectable Mountains (the second one I’ve made using the “modern” method,) one is a nursery rhymes quilt (the fourth and final one using panel fabric bought many years ago,) one is a disappearing 9-patch (I’ve made several of them,) and one is a small medallion quilt, which was pre-designed in EQ8. One of the projects has an intended owner; the others will probably be donations for my guild’s next quilt show silent auction.

Inspiration needs to join hands with motivation and energy, and at this point, those three are standing in different corners of the room, glaring at each other. I have a couple of pending projects that are inspiring, but they are “hard,” and have issues to sort out before moving forward. Motivation is not volunteering to help with that.

As far as that goes, simple projects can offer inspiration, too. Here are a couple of quick ideas I drew this morning in EQ8. You can click on either picture to open them full-sized.

The two designs are the same other than the alternate block. One uses a 3-strip rail fence block and the other uses a snowball. Pretty, huh? I like simple quilts. After I drew these I felt inspired and pretty charged up, ready to head downstairs to pull fabrics for one. Or heck, both use the same 9-patch, so I could do two! And then motivation walked away.

Motivation says, “What’s the point?” And right now, I don’t have an answer.

33 thoughts on “Motivation

  1. tierneycreates

    I missed these posts as I did not realize you were back blogging. I hope you have not been too hard on yourself as anything you have been doing quilting wise is awesome! I’ve had to remind myself that I totally lost motivation and inspiration after my big life change. So I am happy when I get anything done. I even passed up a chance of a lifetime art quilt opportunity because I was without motivation. But you know what – we take one day at a time and that itself is an accomplishment!

  2. goncalo.neves

    You don’t need motivation, you need action and consistency. Then motivation will come gradually. Thank you so much for sharing your point of view!

  3. audrey

    ‘ Your wording ‘Inspiration needs to join hands with motivation and energy, and at this point, those three are standing in different corners of the room, glaring at each other.’ is so spot on for times of distress and trouble. I am so sorry for what you’re dealing with right now but very hopeful things will improve in the future. I always think if something similar happened to me that I could always pull out some hand quilting and do something, but the reality is that hand quilting takes energy too. Store up some of those creative thoughts and maybe later there will be the perfect outlet to express them:)

  4. Elizabeth E.

    (You may have the problem of too many comments for a while. Feel free to not write back to any of mine, as people can be tiring.) A biologist friend described that interim feeling as “lag time,” once, which allowed me to understand that things were still happening under the surface even if I couldn’t articulate them in cloth or craft. Although in a strictly biological sense, it has to do with infection, etc. I liked it because it gave me permission to to not do, and yet, to know that on a cellular level I was doing. Hard to explain, but I think you get it. (The other upshot was that now when I enter a lag time, it doesn’t frighten me.)

  5. zippyquilts

    “What’s the point” is not surprising under the circumstances. Perhaps if you keep doing a little at a time the motivation will take over. One of my favorite Morita maxims is “Action prepares”.

  6. snarkyquilter

    You are actually working on the hardest part – the designs. They are also the most fun part, IMO. Maybe if you keep fiddling with designs one will grab you by the hands and say, “Make me.” If not, then consider putting together a quilters’ coloring book with all the designs you’ve made.

  7. Nann

    Motivation, mojo, the muse . . . whatever it’s called, the absence of it can be troubling because of the contrast. That contrast is knowing how we feel (endorphin rush) when the motivation is sparking all around us, like an aura. (Gee, I’ve mangled about four metaphors on three sips of coffee.) It will come back and you will be embrace it.

    Meanwhile: I looked at both designs and was sure the second one was a Farmer’s Daughter block with sashing. Then I read that the nine-patches are the same, looked again, and saw the snowballs!

  8. KerryCan

    I’m not sure what salient advice I have . . . and I’m pretty sure you weren’t looking for advice, necessarily. Empathy, I can give. I think Gwen makes an excellent point that fallow times are not really empty times. My guess is that things are percolating and, one day, you’ll be ready to rock and roll again!

  9. Kerry

    I haven’t touched a quilt since the weather changed for the better – rainy days mean inside chores to catch up with and being able bodied I’m out in the field! Husband still has a frozen shoulder (second injection seems to have improved it) so still doing a lot of heavy labour. But I have managed to do some tidying and getting the scraps in order, take the electric machines to be serviced, and purchase some batting. Melanie, you have been hit by a sack of wet straw many times over! It’s OK to take time and the meds are probably still playing havoc with you. Since my husband had his heart attack a couple of years back – he’s fit enough but still has meds forever and one of those makes him a tad forgetful – we were told at a heart thingy seminar at the hospital that it would happen, so other halves please be gentle with them! LOL! I’ll add common sense has been affected too – resulting in trips to the casualty unit at the nearest hospital when he cuts himself – the last time was with a pruning saw!

    But I digress (no meds, just loopy), I looked at the second design and initially thought “simple????” then read “snowball” and then had that ahhhhh now I see! So you still caught me out!
    Take care dear lady and all will fall back into place eventually.

  10. knitnkwilt

    I had noticed your absence in blogland and missed you.
    I don’t think I have any words of wisdom to add to what has been said, only I would reinforce not feeling guilty about what you are not doing. I allow myself sewing frenzies, reading frenzies, and even sitting and thinking “frenzies.” It does help that you are not letting anyone down, as you said. That you have no deadlines and are not making your living by sewing (although sometimes deadlines are what light the fire under me).

  11. jmn

    It has been difficult returning from my seven week forced layoff (broken wrist) – I did a bunch of mundane sewing: four pair of pants, 30 sets of seat belt covers, a small “wallet” for myself, and finally finished a pair of socks. But quilting? Can’t seem to get started. So I understand in some small way what you’re experiencing. Hang in there, I’m betting inspiration/ motivation will return.

  12. TextileRanger

    I think you have gotten a lot done!
    But it’s fine to just design things that don’t get actually get executed, or to do other things entirely. Back when my kids were little and I couldn’t get to anything creative that I wanted to do, a saying that helped me was something like, “the best soups simmer on the back burner for a long time.” The woman who wrote it was saying that even down time (or can’t-get-to-it time) isn’t wasted; it all flavors your work.
    Even if you never make these designs (and I love both of them), someone else might get an idea or a helpful hint from them!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Gwen. I think this is what I would tell someone else, and I think I needed to hear it from you, too: “But it’s fine to just design things that don’t get actually get executed, or to do other things entirely.” It’s all okay. I’m not letting anyone down. No one is going to fire me. 🙂 I can use my time however I need, to suit myself. And someday, almost certainly, I’ll get in that groove again. Thank you.

  13. piecefulwendy

    That is a frustrating situation to be in, I well know. Some days I want to just quit. Everything. Somedays I do. I just do something else. Like read a book, draw, color, take a walk, have ice cream. But like Kate says, sometimes doing just little bits of work is therapeutic. Sometimes I just sew pieces of fabric together, improv style. No rules, no rulers, just fabric, rotary, and machine. I don’t try to match colors much, I just grab and sew. I don’t worry about what I’m going to use it for. I sew just for the fun of it. Usually it perks me up and get the three playing together again. Hope you find your mojo again soon 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Wendy. I’ve had “dry” spells before, as I think we all do. And I’ve learned to be pretty patient with them. This will pass, and in the meantime I’m finding other things to do. And this: “Some days I want to just quit. Everything.” I know that feeling! And it passes, too.

  14. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    Beautiful designs.
    I love how you describe being caught with motivation, energy, and inspiration in three different corners. I often feel the same way. My main problem, however, is having focus darting around from corner to corner. 🥴

  15. katechiconi

    Yes, I remember that feeling. I spent a lot of time telling myself I didn’t feel like it, I was too tired. Finally, I realised that the point was to *keep moving forward*, whether I felt motivated or not. My energy flagged quickly, but I set myself small, self-contained units of work, including hand-stitching when I simply couldn’t face the palaver of switching on the machines, setting up, filling the steam iron, organising my supplies, etc. It helped. Later, I could look back and realise I’d actually got a fair bit done despite feeling like a wet rag. That was a boost, and helped generate more motivation. I hope you’ll fall in love again with the fun designs and pretty fabrics and sense of achievement. But first, feel better.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts. You’re right that doing is a motivation generator for more doing. But I don’t have any real creative goal to achieve right now and am not interested in quilting just for the sake of busyness. If I’m going to put the effort into making quilt tops, I want them to be things I’m excited about finishing later, rather than creating obligations to finish things I don’t much care about. As to *keep moving forward?* AMEN to that. 🙂 Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify for myself a couple of things.

  16. Stitcher

    You sure you weren’t writing about me? Since December when I fell and damaged my ankle, I could have gotten so much done, even during all those months sitting in the recliner unable to walk. I wanted to revamp my website. Would have been an ideal time to do it. No motivation. I wanted to really get in and learn all the neat things on EQ. Didn’t happen. Even when my family brought a machine and fabric from my sewing room to me, I didn’t get anything done that could have never been done and not missed. Now I can do stairs and have gone down to the sewing wing of the house, made a small quilt top using the butterfly squares I embroidered while waiting to heal and finished a UFO quilt top from 2013. Started ripping out 24″ x 106″ of a quilt on the long arm. Got two-thirds done, will take maybe 2-3 hours to finish, but just didn’t find the stairs today. Perhaps my mojo will return when my energy level gets back to where it was last year pre-injury. If you find the magic, send some my way. In the meantime, guess we will just “want to want to”.


Thanks for your comments. I don't check them often. Please email me if you have questions.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.