Creative blocks can stop you in your tracks
You stop producing, your moods are moodier and, if left in place, can work their way into cynicism or despair. Blocks are everywhere and everyone encounters them – and there are way more than just seven, but I picked seven common creative ones to help you recognize them and get you in the block-busting groove.
Soft and Hard Creative Blocks
Some blocks are softer than others – let’s call them limitations. Limits of having too little time, needing to make a living or family responsibilities. Limitations are external and we allow them to direct us – by saying yes to them… or no.
Often, the more difficult blocks are internal. The hard ones are those we don’t look at with our eyes and that only get attention when we allow ourselves to be still and perhaps even free them. These blocks are ones like harsh rules we make or self-talk or even outside criticism that Seth Godin talks about, that we then internalize.
Blocks are blocks – the soft ones are simply easier to see, recognize and remove.
Bottom line: both types block our creativity.
7 Creative Blocks
- Self-Talk: criticism, doubt
- Self-Censorship: censoring difficult memories
- Parent Voices: negative comments or unsupported behavior from your parents.
- Social blocks: rejection, criticism.
- Fatigue: lack of energy, drained by efforts of creativity and responsibilities of daily living.
- Environment: require vibrant, music-filled space to create and limited to quiet dark corner.
- Pressure: looming deadline, performance pressure.
Creativity is a challenge. The stuff that blocks creativity seems to come so easy – like mud in a rainstorm. Simple decisions can even be a block – paint trees or paint flowers? Paint small or paint large? If enough of these little buggers pile up you’ll stop creating all together, then you’ll never produce your great work and the world won’t ever see it.
There are lots of ways to bust through any blocks you’re experiences, one way is to simply decide to release it and move on. Seriously though, it’s not always that simply or there wouldn’t be stacks of material written on the stuff. If you want to dive in and read more about it, start with Eric Maisel or Julia Cameron’s work – but don’t let it take you away from producing your own work.
Give yourself an appointment on your calendar to look at the seven block or even add others that you know you have to work on. Write down on paper the ones that pop out at you. Write down in bold the ones that try to hide or that you wish you didn’t have – those are the ones that will need extra attention. Go through each one and ask yourself a few questions: 1) Is the block an old one that keeps coming up over and over? or recent? 2) Is a block showing up only in certain places or times? 3) What times of day does a block show up?
When a deadline or anxiety block comes up, practice relaxing, meditate, go for run or do yoga – then use those post-workout endorphins to tackle the block and turn your original motivation to workout, toward your creative block – like an athletic coach on your shoulder for your art.
Change your routine and habits and see how it changes your perception of a block. Set time limits for other activities, rearrange your schedule, set a goal for the day or for the week.
Declare an “I am a confident artist day”, or “I am a prolific artist day”. Then BE that. All day. Put it on like new clothes. Make a note on your calendar, a sticky on your steering wheel, write on your hand….
Get Help. Ask a friend. Find an artist group and tell them about your project and get fired up. Hire a coach. Email me and just let it out, I’d love to help (your notes and emails are always confidential) get your family involved to remind you of a project or deadline.
Challenge yourself to get better at block-busting. Get to know yourself better, learn more about your personality, work habits, read psychology topics that speak to your sticky spots. Get assertive and get moving.
Don’t shy away from pushing through blocks and limitations. It’s not easy, but the challenges in life are what helps make us truly alive.