Creativity can get blocked for a number of reasons. Sometimes we can’t get started on a project, sometimes we can’t finish it and in-between we can hit a wall. Your reasons will be particular to you, and can change depending on the project… Here are some of the ‘favorite’ blocks and barriers to being creative I first came across as a seven step outline from Linda Dessau's www.genuinecoaching.com site and have expanded them so you can see if you can identify your particular blocks and try the solutions!
Procrastination – stopping before you even get started.
First I must just…I haven’t got enough time right now Later, when the job is less demanding, the children are older… I haven’t got a computer I know how to get started but I can’t see the end yet… My paperwork needs to be in order first I haven’t got a special place to write It needs a bit more thinking about or research If I could just get the right idea, it’s not quite there yet
Try this: promise yourself you are only going to work for 5 minutes and then you can stop—you will usually carry on much longer. Do the work first and never use work time to pay bills, make phone calls or anything else!
Perfectionism – judging yourself and your work too harshly.
Compassion starts at home – you are not required to be brilliantWould you be this unkind to someone else?Keep a separate notebook/paper by your side and write down your judgmental thoughts immediately and return to working Treat yourself as a beloved, and talented child, don’t scold All creativity comes from chaos, a divine spark, leave space What is your biggest and loudest critic saying? Turn it round The best work comes from love, not fear, accept your demons Hold the vision of the outcome and go beyond your negativity
Try this: the world is always ready to judge your work, give yourself a head start and don’t do it for them. Keep a notebook by your side and just write down the negative thoughts that arise and go straight back to writing.
Then afterwards turn those negatives into positive statements – remember to be as kind to yourself as you would to anyone else, in fact more so.
Guilt – unable to put your own creativity before others needs.
Creativity is not selfish, it is essential for your wellbeing God created the world, then attended to the needs of the people, play God when you create When you create you are not saying no to others, you are saying yes to yourself Every worker is entitled to a morning and afternoon tea break, around 15 minutes each. That’s 3 hours a week, not including Sunday you have available to play with!Start with small amounts of time, 5-15 minutes and build up as you accustom others to accommodating your creativity
Try this: selfish is good, repeat that after me! There are always going to be demands on your time so you need to schedule work time and make it a priority. You do have the right to do the things you want, and if you have to say to someone else’s demands think of it as saying yes to yourself.
Negative/distorted thinking – seeing only problems or others successes.
Focus on what you are doing and not on other people’s workEnvy produces nothing useful– use it for your own creativityTreat problems as opportunities and creatively solve themEveryone gets stuck, don’t use it as an excuse for not moving forwardBecause someone else is successful does not mean you will not be
Try this: OK, you are not going to be another J K Rowling or Andy Warhol, but if you want to create a wonderful piece of art go right ahead because it will be yours, and uniquely different. Just because someone else is successful doesn’t mean that you won’t be. Think of all the other creative things out there and has that ever stopped someone writing another one?
Clutter – it is hard to create in a confused physical or mental space.
Creativity comes from chaos – chaos needs a container to function in You want to stimulate your imagination, clutter overwhelms your visual senses and draws energy from you Clutter wastes time, if you can’t find your notes or materials that is less time you have for creating Clutter is the procrastinator’s best friend
Try this: artists need stimulation, but it is hard to create in visual overwhelm. Keep your workspace clear enough to let the ideas through, plus if you really are a clutter hound you are going to have difficulty in finding your notes and ideas for the book in the first place.
Isolation – trying to do it all by yourself with no feedback/support.
Writers need nurture, time, space, love and support You get insights from others feedback that can help you get unstuck Ask for help, not for criticism Get the opinion of someone you trust, not themselves a failed creative, or join a creative group or circle. Timing is critical for feedback, not too early or too late
Try this: We all work better with support from others and positive feedback on our work can go a long way to improving it. That’s why there are circles and creative classes.
Inspiration – either not having it or waiting around for it to strike.
Creativity is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration The ‘muse’ strikes when you are in position, open and ready to work You create inspiration through awareness and applicationYou don’t have to be inspired to createCreating something means putting yourself in a position to work, and then doing just that!
Try this: Of course it will strike eventually, but you could sit around for ever waiting. Real creatives just get on with it and create something while waiting for the muse to strike, and strangely enough that is often inspired. If you are really stuck then do a creative exercise, write an imaginary letter to a historical figure you admire and tell them why and what impact they have had, describe in mindboggling detail the worst thing that has ever happened to you, and the best. Don’t wait, create!
You now have some information to get to the heart of what is holding you back. It’s not about beating yourself up but about honestly looking at what the problems are and then putting in place a solution that works. Just one small step at a time, and you will crack it.
Need more help? Read on.
You will soon find the things that you need to make creating easy and pleasurable for you. It’s not about suffering, it’s about creating an environment that supports you to work regularly. So think about these:
A place to work that is comfortable and where you can keep your material The right equipment Music to work with Ideas box/inspiration board Artists dates/Treat jar Resources to help you create and provide researchAn answerphone so you are not distracted or the means to switch the phone off while you are working A notice for your day that says ‘keep out creative at work’ and pin it there while you are working and impress on the family that it means what it says Schedule regular creating time into your diary – it’s not going to happen if you don’t
Creativity can get blocked for a number of reasons. Sometimes we can’t get started on a project, sometimes we can’t finish it and in-between we can hit a wall. Your reasons will be particular to you, and can change depending on the project, but there are some methods that we all seem to share!
I hope these help you.
Top image from The Creative Finder.
This is a cross-post from Talent Develop Resources.
AnnA Rushton—life and creativity coaching—see her site Creative Catalyst creativecatalyst.co.uk.
Douglas Eby, M/A Psychology, is a writer, researcher and online publisher on the psychology of creative expression and personal growth. He is author of the Talent Development Resources series of sites.