Some say that an artistic block, or creative block, doesn’t exist. Though some of the arguments are valid, I tend to disagree, especially when it happens to me. Here are some reasons why you might be suffering from a creative block, and what you can do about them. This is not a bible and I firmly believe that you really need to know yourself to get over your creative block, if or when it happens.
Sometimes we think that we have a creative block when we have too little on our mind. But reality shows that when we have a lot of things on our mind, or having too much to handle, is when we block ourselves to new things. We might have many commitments, are overwhelmed with demands, we might have competing forces pushing our boundaries, or having a lot of obligations. These might be the reasons that demotivate us.
Another reason, which is for me a proper one, is that we tend to work too much for too long, which leads us not to express ourselves clearly. Being trapped in a routine might also kill our creativity (first hand experience here).
Some more reasons might be the following … self-criticism, loss of meaning, resistance to change, anxiety, procrastination, compatibility problems, personal traumas, lack of time or knowledge, fear of rejection or failure. These are all psychological aspects which might hinder our creative streak.
So what should we do? Or rather, what is the process?
Many times when I have a creative block I pass through the bereavement process, which can be very emotional. That is until I accept the presenting situation and move on. But how do we do that?
Some ideas would be the creation of rituals (not routine based but model based), persisting on some project or endeavour until it is done. Another push forward would be that of investing in the craft, building knowledge and skills to make a better version of your ideas.
A very good idea would be to experiment with your schedule. Many times we realise that we are fully functioning early in the morning, or late at night. So we need to adapt on what our body and mind tell us. Using a ‘to do’ list also helps us in reducing the amount of pending work.
One very important thing is getting to know ourselves. Many times we get lost in translation, we forget our limitations and keep on pushing until we are completely drained. Knowing our boundaries, and learning to say no, helps us limit ourselves in what we do best in our own time. So keeping a notebook and writing down all that passes through our mind reduces the stress of many thoughts regurgitating in our head.
A lot of what makes us creative is a dialogue with ourselves and with our work, being open-minded on work and ideas. Talking to ourselves, even though many think it is maddening, actually it is self-liberating. And if you want to create something do not wait until you think you are ready, but jump on the creative wagon. Being uncomfortable is part of it, so make a habit out of it.
Also make sure you live the present. It is key to reducing much of the anxiety (anxiety is based on the past and future if you think about it) you carry. Recreating your surroundings also helps in the process of self-healing, even putting some more light in your workshop helps. And if you do not have a fixed place, start looking at unlikely places to work from, both physically and metaphorically.
Make sure you get other perspectives, like exploring other creative disciplines or other ideas which are constantly present around you but lack to notice. Building on knowledge is also a way of creating successful ‘experiments’.
The list is endless. There are so many reasons for a creative block and ways to overcome them that it would take us a whole book to discuss all of them. But here is a thought you can carry with you, if you think all of the above are useless crap …
Remember, just remember, you are not a production machine. You need time, patience, knowledge and space to do what you do best, and that is, being creative.