How crafting helps writer’s block and other troubles

I never anticipated my crafting hobby could help my writing career, but here we are. Crafting jewelry has become a reward — a strategy for assuring that I stay on course as a writer. A key part of my healthy writer’s life means being a crafty writer.

Any writer can get derailed. Discouragement, a nasty little gremlin whispers that perhaps you are just a fraud, kidding yourself that what you’ve penned is worthwhile. You can grow weary of the whole process, weary of marketing, blogging, social media, finding key words, finding agents, finding publishers–or not. Sometimes you have to find something to keep you in your seat plugging away creating. You must risk writing badly, just getting something on the screen so you can go back and edit and polish and wrestle and spin that mess into gold. However, I need an incentive to press on and mine is crafting. I promised myself that I could go craft something if I pushed through a critical stage and I did. My eBook, A Thing of Beauty, is launched

Fast crafting equals quick return to writing

I have been crafting off and on since junior high. I made a sea shell arrangement for art class that received rave reviews from my family and resulted in an order of the same from my sister. Over the years, I have passed through several craft phases: decoupage, pressed and framed flower arrangements; miles of embroidery — floss and crewel, and decorative painting. But now, a writer — I need something more like instant gratification–only a brief creative distraction.

Crafting beaded jewelry is just the thing. I have the reward of arranging shape, color, and texture without the mess of glue or paint or frustration of taking out wayward stitches. A crafty writer can have a new accessory in one evening. She can also take the whole business apart and recycle the beads into something fresh and pleasing. If you are one of those people who loves to make handmade gifts, and I am one of those–this instant gratification craft is the one for you. Best of all, not only is the gift lovely, it is fast. Therefore, in short order, this crafty writer is back to writing, refreshed and rewarded!

Crafting a low-hassle gift

I chose to create memory wire bracelets. Although most women enjoy bracelets, fastening them without help can be an annoyance. Women of all ages enjoy the convenience of just coiling a memory wire bracelet around their wrists. This jewelry also gives the appearance of stacked bracelets without applying several at a time. The bracelets can be crafted in a variety of styles from sleek and modern to bling-y to quirky Bohemian. I chose the versatility of a multicolored arrangement of glass, semi-precious, and shell beads alternated with silver spacers.

A crafty writer’s beginning steps

Of course, long ago I acquired supplies from the jewelry section of local craft stores. First for this project, I needed memory wire, available in silver and gold tones. Next, I resorted to my rainbow selection of beads. Because this is a gift I create often, I shop sales for these beads, but I also re-purpose broken jewelry and yard sale finds. Obliging friends and family have donated lovely pieces. In fact, one vintage broken Swarovski necklace has furnished bling for several projects. In addition, my French and Indian re-enactor husband keeps me supplied with both white and purple wampum (shell beads).

As I pursued beading, I also acquired tools. Pictured below, from top to bottom, you will find memory wire shears, a one-step looper, round nose pliers, and bent chain nose pliers.

Memory wire shears, a one-step looper, round nose pliers, and bent chain nose pliers

Step one in this process is cutting the wire to the desired length.( It is important to use heavy-duty memory wire shears. Conventional diagonal side cutters will quickly grow dull and will not cut memory wire efficiently.) Some crafters will use numerous coils, but for my projects, I choose three to four. Second, create the first tiny loop at one end. This is achieved by following the natural curve of the wire and bending the end into a loop with round-nose pliers or a one-step looper. Beadaholique provides a useful video for this step. The wire loop should look like the one pictured below. I have occasionally found it necessary to “encourage” my loop into shape with my bent nose pliers.

Crafty Writer begins project with small loop in memory wire.
Notice the tiny beginning loop in the memory wire and the first tiny bead.

Now the fun of arranging

Once I created my loop, I could begin stringing my beads. When I first began beading, I would lay out my beads in an attractive arrangement on a bead board or mat. A micro-fiber cloth will work in a pinch. Now that I have arranged several, I know the color combinations I prefer and I simply proceed with stringing. In the completed bracelet at the top, I went with the rainbow sequence of colors –remember R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)? In the following bracelet, I went with complementary combinations such as red and green or yellow and purple. I also chose analogous colors or colors that are related and fall next to each other on the color wheel.

Crafty writer's own memory wire bracelet

As you can see, I alternated silver beads or spacers with the various colored beads. Once I placed a final tiny bead on the end of the last coil, I created my last loop with the bit of bare wire left for that purpose. The bracelet above is my first such bracelet and I find it goes well with a variety of solid color garments. My bracelet comes with sweet memories of beads that were shared and of my months-old grandbaby touching, and flipping one flat blue bead again and again as we traveled together in the back seat.

A Thing of Beauty connection

Ironically, crafting also plays a role in the character development of Becky’s sister, Jessica. In an early chapter, we find she has created a decoupaged box in 4H. Like most writers, I drew somewhat from personal experience. I also participated in this 1970s craze. In fact, I found inspiration in a decoupaged box, a 4H project displayed at the Dallas State Fair. I made at least two such boxes and other decoupaged items as Christmas gifts that year.

Also, like Jessica, I shamelessly abused my mother’s sewing scissors by cutting foil with them. Predictably, my mother shared fictional Liz Ramey’s outraged horror. Furthermore, like my character, I also used and abused shoe boxes for anything and everything but storing shoes. Thirteen-year-old Jessica is a slob, and I can create a mess when in the throes of crafting, but only up to point. Writers cannot write in chaos–and a family can’t function in it either.

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