This week on our podcast Izzy and I talk about Creative Block, which raised lots of interesting questions, the first of which was what is it? Closely followed by does it even exist? When I was searching for definitions, I found a couple that seemed to resonate. It was defined as a barrier to inspiration or the inability to access one’s internal creativity, both of which made a lot of sense.
But does it even exist as a ‘thing’ or is it just a particular state of mind? Personally, I think it is a state of mind and it is normal to have periods of stalled creativity and it is natural for it to ebb and flow. It would be totally exhausting to be in a constant state of creative outpouring! Therefore, during these periods of creative inactivity, we can feel as though we are blocked which leads to feeling we will never have another new or original idea for as long as we live and so begins a cycle of despair where we believe we are suffering from ‘creative block’.
This is a painting that I felt 'blocked' with for many months, but by leaving it aside and not thinking about it meant eventually I came back to it and knew what to do to finish it.
By accepting this is normal and recognising what might be the reason behind our lack of creativity can release us from this cycle. So, what do I mean by recognising the reason behind the creative block we are feeling? Well, there are different types of creative block. There is the complete ‘mental block’ where we become trapped by our own negative thoughts. We convince ourselves this is the end of our creativity and start to believe these self-limiting thoughts. By recognising this and accepting it is just a phase that will pass, we can release ourselves from the cycle.
Maybe there are emotional barriers holding us back? It can be scary to create and release work out into the world… what if we are not good enough or no-one likes what we do? We need to stop comparing what we do to others, stop worrying about outcomes and stop caring what anyone else thinks… easier said than done I know, but it’s the only way to break free. Make the work you want to make! Allow yourself to make something bad!
“The biggest enemy to creativity is self-doubt” Sylvia Plath
Maybe we have got into bad habits or systems that don’t work? Perhaps you always sit down to work first thing in the morning but are just not a morning person? Or maybe you believe you need to get household chores or admin work out of the way before you can carve out creative time for yourself but in fact you would be better doing the creative stuff first. By recognising your habits and what works for you, could be the way out of a creative rut. Discover your best time to be creative and make it a habit and part of your routine. Plenty of sleep, good food and self-care should also feature in that routine too!
Sometimes we just need to accept that life can get in the way. When coping with illness, redundancy, death, divorce, a house move or any of life’s difficult situations it can be impossible to be creative. Emotional overwhelm can drain you of the resources you need to be creative. Equally hardship or difficult times can be the catalyst for creative work in other people, but the trick is recognising how such events impact on you and your creativity. Be kind to yourself and don’t ask for too much.
Or maybe you are just suffering from overwhelm generally… too many ideas, too many thoughts and you just don’t know where to start. This can be a sign to step back and simplify things. Decide what is important, realise what you can discard, prioritise and just start with one thing. Ditch the stuff you don’t want to do.
Sometimes the best ideas come when we do something else... like going for a walk!
I believe we need to embrace the creative block and just let it happen in the knowledge that it happens to everyone. Sometimes the trick is not to try too hard, to walk away and to do something else, because the best ideas often happen when we do something else. And remember…
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” Pablo Picasso
What are your tips for getting out of that ‘creative block’ mind set? If you would like to see some of mine you can download my free guide to 'Unleashing Your Creativity" by clicking the link.