Creativity is interesting in that when it’s flowing, we don’t feel it. We have no explanation for where it came from or how we did what we did other than, “I don’t know, I blacked out.” Anyone who has experienced this can attest that it’s an amazing, almost out-of-body experience. We’re not thinking, we’re just creating. It’s the closest thing to magic we have.
On the flip side, if we’re not in a “flow” - if we’re creatively blocked, being creative becomes one of the hardest things to do. The writers among us get writers block, the visual artists have difficulty finding inspiration, and the musicians just can’t hear the next note.
Regardless of the reason we create, sitting down and feeling the lack of creativity is one of the most difficult things to work through, but there are ways:
I wouldn’t say it’s universally accepted, but taking consistent breaks at work has become a widely accepted means to improving productivity. The same is true for creativity. When we find ourselves having trouble getting through whatever block we’re staring at, it’s common for us to think we need to brute-force our way through it. Maybe, though, the key is to step away for a few minutes so we can think about something else.
Getting away can be immensely beneficial for our creativity because it gives us a reprieve from straining it. It allows us to work the other parts of our brain (or no parts of our brain) while the creative part rests. Then, when we return to our workstation, we’re refreshed and (hopefully) have a clearer mindset. All of a sudden, we’re not so hard on ourselves for not being creative and maybe we feel more comfortable taking creative chances – chances we weren’t willing to take before our break.
LOOK TO OTHER CREATIVES
Everything that has been created was born of inspiration and it’s ok and good for us to use our favorite artists and creatives as inspiration for the work we’re trying to do.
Having a hard time flushing out an idea and getting a final product we can be proud of? Good. Instead of getting down on ourselves about it, let’s take a minute to put our work aside and look to the very people and work that drew us to creativity in the first place.
If I’m stuck on something I’m writing, I go read my favorite writers so I can 1) be reminded of why I love doing it in the first place, and 2) be reminded that there isn’t a “right” way to do something. All there is is to do it. We need to not get discouraged by the fact that these people have created something and we’re struggling, but rather be encouraged that they were able to get through the block and eventually inspire us with what they created.
I don’t mean we need to pound 10 cups of coffee and stare at our work until our eyes bleed, I mean that just because things are a little difficult doesn’t mean we can’t get through it.
One of the keys to success is just sticking with it. If we can avoid getting discouraged when we’re blocked, and avoid getting discouraged when we see other people being creative, we’ll eventually break through to the other side and create something we’re proud of.
Creative blocks are really good at making us feel like we’re not at all creative, like we should drop our tools and never pick them up again. It’s important to remember that everyone has had that feeling before. The only difference between someone who is “creative” and someone who isn’t is whether or not they got passed it.
Until next time – Can I show you something I’ve been working on?