Little Breaks for Big Ideas, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

The other night, I learned how to do this:

It's a very first try at English Paper Piecing (EPP), with scrap fabric and no plan, generally thought of as a hand quilting technique. I'm not planning to make a quilt, though I love to do all kinds of needlework and stitchery. But it seemed like the perfect little fiddly thing for my mini writing breaks. You know, the times when you're trying to figure out a story problem? Or know you have a problem but aren't sure what exactly that problem might be? Or you just need to stop for 15 minutes and regroup. Or my favourite -- when I know that there's something right there, just brewing underneath, but it needs to be teased out, developed gently with love and patience. Often, those are the times that I take a walk. Getting up and moving are almost always the best ways for me to shake off any hints of block, to generate ideas, to think a story through. But sometimes, a few minutes of stitching, of working with my hands, does the trick. I learned the EPP basics on Monday night; it came in very handy yesterday as I thought "Big Picture" thoughts about a novel revision. On three different occasions throughout the day, I picked it up, stitched for 5 or 6 minutes, then put it down. Over the past couple of weeks I've been working on this embroidery sampler:

In those few minutes of doing a stitch, I give my mind the freedom to decide on whether or not to revive long-dormant projects, to ponder brand-new ones that I'll note and work on later. It's just a few minutes each time. But it helps me allow myself to let my mind move forward, backward, or even in circles; and then to grab onto those delicate threads of new ideas, wonderings, stories, and weave them into my work.

I hate to waste. I wondered for a moment what I'd do with that first attempt at EPP. It's not pretty, but still...

...Then I remembered: I've already used it. And it's served me well.

Also, maybe one day I'll make a little quilt.


  1. That's really cool, Marcia. And you're right, sometimes anything that's 'not writing' is all it takes to break up the log jam.

  2. Love your creative efforts Gbemi...I'm a needleworker, too. And, small projects like this are perfect for unraveling tangled bits from writing projects. Why not hang it above your writing desk as a talisman or reminder of how creativity takes all forms...


Post a Comment