Overcoming the Creative Block


All the signs were there.

Nail biting and finger picking.

Teeth grinding.

Muscle tension.

Exhaustion.

Procrastination and avoidance.

Negative Self-Talk.

Yep, I was once again dealing with a creative block. I was stumped. Ever been there?

Regardless of your profession or personality, getting “stumped” and unable to solve a particular problem is a common issue. We all deal with our blocks in a different manner. The before mentioned “signs” or behaviors are my own natural reaction to not being able to problem solve, but they do NOT solve the problem. However, I have come up with a short list of helpful behaviors that DO remove the creative block more quickly. It’s a list that has developed over the years through much experimentation and trial and error. Perhaps one or two will resonate with you.

Shut up the Internal Critic--First and foremost for me is to silence the inner critic that never fails to tell me that I’m not going to solve this one. Be it a parenting issue, art problem or leadership conundrum.

“This is too big, I can’t figure this out.”

“I’m not smart enough….

creative enough….

spiritual enough…..”

“I’m going to fail”

All this mumble jumble is only helpful to acknowledge so that you can immediately combat it.

Writing down past “problem solves” and how the solutions show that you are, in fact, smart enough, creative enough, and spiritual enough can give much needed clarity and confidence. Sure, you may not be perfect, but you have the basics that you need to move ahead creatively and not let lies paralyze you.

Practice a Methodical/Rhythmic Activity--research shows that activities that exercise different parts of your brain can help solutions bubble to the surface more readily. (I learned this from Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way….an excellent tool for generating some creativity!) Driving known routes, walking, running, stirring, knitting, swinging, taking a shower, taking a nap, pushing a vacuum, etc are all activities that take the focus off the pending problem and allow your mind to wander and find creative solutions. Think back to the times when a solution for something hit you out of the blue...what were you doing? If you see a pattern, then you know that this activity helps to unlock your creativity.

Go do it.

Talk It Out-- We often need a different view or perspective to a problem we are facing and this is where talking with trusted colleagues, friends or family can be so helpful. They might not have the perfect solution for you, but they might add a thought that puts you on the path to solving the issue. Sharing also helps take the burden off so that you have more emotional and mental space to carry the problem until it is solved.

I'll also say that sometimes talking it out doesn't mean talking to another person. It could be praying. In fact, I would say that most of my creative blocks are overcome by simply asking for help from the most creative being I know. I mean, look around you! Holy smokes! Talk about knowing how to solve some interesting problems. He designed you to be creative, so I'm sure He won't mind if you ask for some tips. I believe He would be delighted.

Shake It Up-- We love routine. It’s so comfortable and predictable, but it can stifle our ability to creatively tackle life. When you are feeling stumped, change things up. Maybe that means going to a new place to eat or hanging out with a different crowd of friends. Maybe you take a completely different route to pick up the kids from school or you choose to sit in a completely different place at a meeting. All these small things can help you push through a mental block. They subtly change your perspective and angle on life.

There are a lot of other ways of dealing with “stumps” and if you have some of your own that you would like to share, please do! I would love to find some new ones. This life is full of challenges, but since we were designed to be creative, we can allow these pesky issues and problems to be a catalyst for growth as opposed to bloody-fingered stagnation.

What is your current problem you need to solve? What are you doing to do to start solving it?

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