There’s no such thing as creative block, there’s no such thing as …
I am a highly creative person. I write, I make music, I invent products and services, I sculpt and I am constantly solving problems (for myself and others).
However, the last 3 months have been dry. Every single output I have generated has been squeezed out of a stone with great pressure. The only thing that has kept me going through this fallow period is my skills set. The fact that, even when I am not inspired, technically I am accomplished enough to still produce material … mostly bad material but material none the less.
I don’t believe in creative block. Mainly because I don’t believe creativity is something that you can either have or not have. But I know from experience that it is an open-ended system. You cannot constantly be just putting out … sometimes you need to re-fuel, to put back in. What we call a block is just a part of the process: as vital and as necessary as the output.
Most often, those times when we are bereft of inspiration, becalmed and adrift, we have entered the long dark tea-time of the soul … the shaded spaces of introspection and self-doubt. We seek reassurance, we do other things, we read, we cast about.
All of these activities are good and natural, and they will lead us out the other side.
It is impossible to separate the creative act from the environment that it takes place in. Sometimes, when we are being super productive, that environment ceases to change and grow. We are so focused on producing, that we forget to graze, to read, to consume. And eventually, the well dries up.
It’s not a crisis. It is the nature of the thing. Over the years this has happened to me so many times, I barely register it anymore. But I realised I do have a technique for riding it out, and here it is:
- Mix it up
When I have hit the wall and all seems lost, I go for a walk, I watch movies, I call friends, I read a new book. I do things I wouldn’t normally do.
- Keep showing up
I don’t stop practising my craft. But I do stop judging it. I am happy to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and I know that, if all of this is bad, I am now clearing loads of space for better things to take its place.
- Take in the new
I make a serious effort to do different things, read new websites, explore other disciplines. This is when I download new software, try and find new ways of doing old things or simply new things to do.
- Fix what isn’t working
Also known as mending your nets. In dry periods, I sort out my filing, complete my taxes, re-jig my folders, sort and compile things. It puts everything into perspective, re-introduces me to forgotten things and reminds me of what good work I have done in the past.
- Do what you know is good for you
I have 4 major self-care areas I always go back to when times get rough:
- Eat healthily
- Physical exercise
- No alcohol
If you don’t know what yours are, I suggest you find out.
One of the major neurological requirements of creativity is that you must not try too hard. When we panic about a block or a fallow period of creativity, we essentially go into over-drive and do exactly the opposite. There’s no such thing as creative block …
Forgive yourself, look after yourself and get busy with other things and you’ll find it’s all over far faster than previously thought.