If you’re a creative person, you know that the experience of feeling blocked is torturous and inevitable. How do we accept the latter while minimising the former?
In a creative block right now? We’ve identified three reasons why you might be feeling this way.
Keep reading for all the ways you can beat your creative blocks.
CREATIVE BLOCK #1: LACK OF MOTIVATION
The problem with motivation is that it’s too reliant on your emotional state, which is fickle at best. Ever had that experience where your emotions take a nosedive and it’s hours later that you figure out the trigger point? Too many variables affect your level of motivation, and you never know when it’s going to wane.
- Make creative time non-negotiable – NOT based on your emotional whims.
- Don’t give in to external pressure about how much time you should be spending on your creative pursuits. Start light – say, 2-3x a week.
- When you do sit down to work creatively, don’t move the second your motivation dips. Even if it’s slow-going, you WILL make more progress than if you didn’t sit down at all.
CREATIVE BLOCK #2: NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Ah, negative thoughts. The radio station that rarely turns off. In the last section we wrote about motivation being affected by emotion. But did you know that your thoughts can dictate your emotions? David Burns, in The Feeling Good Handbook, explores the idea that it’s our thoughts that ultimately determine how we feel. He identifies ten negative distortions that shift the way you feel at any given time.
Being creative can be a double-edged sword. Creative minds are pretty great at conjuring up narratives to use in their work. But how about the personal narratives we listen to, over and over again, about ourselves?
- Be observant of any stories your mind has conjured up and potentially attached to your self-identity.
- If you’re feeling self-doubt, just remember that, at your core, you have an interest in creativity. Regardless of how good you are at your creative pursuit in this moment, having an interest and the desire to keep learning a craft and make improvements is enough. Read So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Mindset – two books that stress the importance of a learner’s mindset for success. Be honest about where you are in your creative journey, so that you can accurately assess what your next learning step should be.
- Remember – if you’ve chosen to be part of the global group of creatives, there aren’t any gatekeepers stopping you from indulging your passions. Focus on the craft, not whether or not you belong to an imaginary exclusive group of your making.
- To save yourself the heartache of rejection, be strategic about who you show your work to. Choose people who are a mix of those on your level and others a little bit further along. Hopefully the people on your level will appreciate how it feels to work to improve, and those further along can reach back and give you the right kind of guidance. If your skin isn’t thick enough yet, don’t show your work to people you know will give you half-hearted responses or, even worse, feedback that isn’t constructive.
- Consider ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (get out of your mind and into your life,). Committing to your goals and deeper values will give you long-term fulfilment, even if you feel discomfort and resistance in the moment.
CREATIVE BLOCK #3: FATIGUE
Sometimes you are honestly, authentically, TIRED. The first two blocks relate to mental and emotional spheres, but now we’re firmly solving any physical issues you may be having.
Remember that any negative feedback you’re getting, whether mental, emotional, or physical, is your body telling you that something is wrong. In terms of the physical, your body might be trying to get you to look at how much sleep you’re having, if you’re dehydrated, or not fuelled properly. This is particularly true for those of you who have full-time jobs – as Candy can attest, not being able to function past 3pm is a huge missed opportunity. If you’re eating at the right times, timing your snacks and designing them to keep you personally awake and moving, and inserting movement breaks and committing to sleep that helps your regenerate for the next day, then you should be able to have a full day of work and still have time for your pursuits. It doesn’t have to be either/or – work and rest, no play in between.
- Start to see the physical body as a signal source, a feedback machine. Add to this that the state of your health will determine how well your body (the vessel through which your inner self expresses itself) can carry your ideas to fruition, and you’ve got yourself a more intuitive relationship with the self.
- Look at where you can improve the way you treat your body. Where are you most negligent? Start there.
Comment below – which of our Top Three Creative Blocks do you feel most often? Have you developed tricks to overcome them? Share with your fellow Penguins!