A Maker’s Nightmare

by Mayi Carles of Heartmade

a maker's nightmare, mayi carles, heartmade, overcoming creative blocks

Holy cow, I can’t believe this is already my fourth contribution post for OMHG. It seems like yesterday when I first connected with Jessika. Surprisingly though, I also feel so comfy here, like visiting granny’s house, that I find it hard to believe it’s only been a few months. I’m sure it has all to do with Jessika being so out-of-this-world kind + making me feel like “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” (My Home is Your Home).

I’m sure you feel it too.

Anyhoo, today I’m popping in to talk about my life as a maker + your life as a maker too, well aware that this month is all about celebrating our precious gifts + talents + journeys + stories.

Oh boy, can I just stop there for just a moment to say how much I’ve loved reading your stories this month. They’ve transported me to a thousand aha moments + I feel so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you.

OK, now let me get back on track + talk to you about making.

I can find so many tales to share about my life as a maker.

I could talk about the time I was 2 years old + my parents framed my very first crayon doodle, which still hangs in my mom + dad’s bedroom in its shiny gold painted frame.

I could talk about 1986, the year I took up my version of “mural painting”, applied Mattel plaster + splattered tempera paint to wall surfaces.

I could talk about the first grade when, apparently inspired by the otherworldly works of Salvador Dali, I drew on my little brother Coco the first of many permanent mustaches.

But instead I’m gonna talk about resistance.

Sorry. I didn’t mean to ruin the party. I know it could have been a lot easier to distract you with delightful stories of glory, but instead I’m dedicating today’s attention to my (and every artist’s) worst nightmare: creative “blockage” (aka lack of inspiration), not because I’m sadistic, but because this is real.

Let me be the first to confess, sometimes I can’t make a thang’.

It’s true.

Resistance lives within us. It manifests itself as self-sabotage + self-denial + self-deception. Symptoms might include, but are not limited to ugly headaches + inspiration paralysis + absolute frustration + stock mania + overwhelm + cupcake binge.

It happens. A lot in fact. Do you remember it happening? Do you think you might be suffering from this condition right this second?

It’s alright. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, I’ve been blocked too. Way too many times before. My last dating not too long ago actually. It lasted 2 years. The painting rut, that is.

I couldn’t make.

I really don’t know what happened. Painting was my thing. My mojo. It came so easily, like second nature to me. But somewhere around the time I quit my job + decided to take my creative career seriously, the mental blockage surfaced. All of the sudden, this burden took over my whole entire body. I started doubting my work. Every time I attempted to tackle a new empty canvas, I felt pressured to make something ground breaking, something master-like. “I need to sell it”, “How else would I pay the bills?”, “This is no longer your hobby Mayi, this is your bread + butter”, I remember telling myself.

Painting stopped being fun. It became a chore, to the point of nausea. And on top of that I was constantly being asked by my family + friends + even strangers, “So, when is your next exhibition?”, “I bet now that you have all this time in your hands you’re painting like crazy” + things like that.

The mental games kicked in. The insecurities knocked all doors. It got so bad that I even had to confess what was happening to those very closest to me so they stopped saying the word “painting” or “exhibition” around me.

Absolute bummer.

And then, unexpectedly, on the eve of Easter Sunday, I felt a tickling sensation inside + the urge to grab a little canvas + make something. And so I did.

The result…

a maker's nightmare, mayi carles, heartmade, overcoming creative blocksa maker's nightmare, mayi carles, heartmade, overcoming creative blocksa maker's nightmare, mayi carles, heartmade, overcoming creative blocks

Little Miss Olive + Little Miss Tabatha, making a grand entrance + ready to melt more than a few hearts. Full of love + sweetness, these pieces represent an artist’s (that would be yours truly) quest from the obscure dungeons of stuck to the illuminating gates of inspiration.

Phew, just saying that makes me feel 5 pounds lighter + like I just returned from the Bahamas.

I guess it’s safe to say at this stage that I’ve officially won this battle.

Mayi 1, Resistance 0.

Nothing shiny. Nothing glamorous. Nothing to make a big fuzz about. Just so glad to be painting again. I missed it + hopefully others did too.

But guess what? I’m not gonna party like it’s my B-Day. I’m not going to celebrate, at least not Mardi Gras style, because I know this war isn’t over.

If I’ve learned something over the years battling resistance is that this abomination is a tough cookie, a little bit like cockroaches. It survives Big Bangs + Jedi mind tricks + it’s immune to Masters diplomas + mama’s cooking, so I’m taking extra precautions this time, not letting my guard down. I hope you aren’t either.


Creativity is your gift.

Yes, I’m talking to you superstar.

You have the ability to transform ideas + images + words into truth + beauty. True tale.

Don’t let resistance take that away from you.

Be ready for when your creative genius strikes out of the blue.

Be prepared for when your Muse comes whispering your next idea.

Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give the world all you’ve got.

I’m cheering for you all the way. I know Jessika is too + the entire cosmos.


Mayi Carles

Mayi Carles is a super passionate artist + eco-friendly designer + creative coach + editor of heartmade blog with big dreams + messy ideas + a severe cupcake addiction + a funny Panamanian accent. Mayi’s on a mission to empower creative hearts to dream bigger + imagine better + achieve more + embrace all the beautiful messiness in-between. To connect with Mayi, follow her tweets at @mayicarles.


  1. Isa says:

    Amazing!! Mayi I love the way you just grab my attention and tell it like it is. “Give the world all that you’ve got”. I love it! Thanks for cheering on us small businesses!

  2. I have been through this so many times. It’s usually the worst whenever I get a big shipment of new supplies. I don’t know where to start!

    It’s wonderful to read your story of breaking through the stuck feeling. And Little Miss Olive and Little Miss Tabatha are just too adorable!

  3. I’ve totally been here creatively – some days I feel like I can do anything and other days I’m not sure where that special spark went. It’s not easy, but comforting to know others go through this too. When I’m in a rut, I spend a little time doing something completely unrelated – it helps!

    Thanks for sharing Mayi, agreed that Misses Olive & Tabatha are so cute.

  4. Erin Giles says:

    Great article Mayi, I have of course have been there, and it lasted about two years for me too! But I am back and ready to rock that resistance when it shows its ugly head again:)!!

  5. Mayi Carles says:

    Katrina: It’s specially hard when being an artists becomes a full time thing + we feel like we have to be ON 100% on the time. I have much to learn in this department, but I’m realizing slowing but surely that being gentile with myself is much more fulfilling + magical. Makes me appreciate that much more how incredibly lucky I am for having the ability to creative every so often 🙂

  6. glad I stop by once and a while and get a good read in! Thank you Mayi. I feel like I have all the ideas, just not enough time… Soon I’ll start to forgot, so I’d better keep a better creative journal. You’re an artist and you write well! thanks

  7. Cyndy says:

    It’s true, many times I look at my craft table and just turn and go the other way. Other times I can’t wait to jump out of bed and get going. Buying a new inspirational craft book will sometimes jump start me again. I hang at the library too.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. There were so many things I found so familiar in this post. The blocks were as painful as you describe and similarly caused by a need to sell. As soon as I recognised i was putting too much pressure on myself, I started to overcome.

    I’m learning to recognise my most creative moments and make just for the sake of making. I make because it’s fun, a challenge and so satisfying.

    Your paintings are lovely and the story of their making is inspiring. May you continue to win the battle against creative blockages. Thank you 🙂

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