Good ol’ writer’s block. This is something we all get even if we aren’t actually writers. So perhaps “creativity block” is more accurate. Even if your profession or hobbies don’t involve an actual art form, creativity is still an important skill to use in every area of your life. Dictionary.com (Because Merriam-Webster’s definition wasn’t enough for me.) defines creativity as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.” So there you have it. Whether it’s creating a new piece of art, music, or writing, streamlining an accounting procedure, or figuring out the best way to carry your baby while raking leaves you’re engaging in creative thinking. Being creative not only makes our experience of life sweeter but it also makes it easier to navigate the challenges we encounter.
Of course there are times when that creative flow becomes blocked (Hence, the point of this essay.) and we feel like Zombies staring at a blank page with a sense of impending doom. There could be a million reasons for this. Not enough sleep. No time for breakfast. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Childhood trauma. Adulthood trauma. A mean boss. Negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. You get the point. And you don’t want to remain in a Zombie-like state so to get unstuck as quickly as possible here are twelve ways that may help you to do that:
Handle Basic Needs
Eat, sleep, and exercise enough and in healthy ways so that you remain in balance more often than not. When we aren’t taking care of our basic needs that’s when we most often become stressed out and stress attacks our minds. Often stress and mental difficulties are a signal that something is out of whack in our body.
It may be helpful to understand where the block originated and address that if necessary. Trauma or mental health concerns can not only get in the way of our creativity but also other aspects of your life. If this is true for you it would be most helpful to face that and process it. Of course, that isn’t easy and the benefits aren’t always immediate but there is professional support if you choose to really get to the bottom of it.
Sometimes there isn’t an obvious reason or there is and you aren’t ready to face it or you’ve already faced it. So just accept that you’re blocked and you aren’t going to get all worked up about it (which only increases the block). I know, I know, that’s easier said than done but sometimes you just have to accept and love your blocks in order for them to dissipate. Cheesy as it sounds saying (in your own way), “Thank you blocks,” actually takes away their power.
Breathe into It
As I’ve said before when all else fails simply breathe. It can’t get you into any more trouble and can help you get back into the moment allowing some room for inspiration to flow. This can include meditation, yoga, or any other activity where focus on the breath is very important.
I know, same as with breathing this is my go to prescription. But alas it heals the brain and allows you to naturally be more in the moment, which increases your ability to be creative. There’s a reason so many great creators had/have country retreats.
Speaking of retreats intentionally create some space for you to create. Even if it’s a tiny corner in your tiny home. Put a few comfortable pillows or desk or easel or supplies and some of your favorite things that calm and inspire you. Whatever it is that gets you going place it there and make it beautiful. If you have the means to escape somewhere else for a day or a week or a lifetime then do that too. But having even just that tiny corner will do wonders on a regular basis.
Another form of retreating that can be done anywhere, anytime. Most of us are inundated with text messages, emails, social media alerts, maybe even actual telephone calls. This constant pinging interrupts our creative process. It gets in the way of our flow. So silence the electronics when working on a project. And set aside time on a regular basis to unplug completely so you can fully engage in more moments of your life.
Keep It Moving
Literally. Your body I mean. Exercise stimulates all kinds of body processes that stimulate our mind and spirit. Regular movement is most helpful in preventing blocks to begin with. But if you’re presently stuck on a problem get up and take a short walk or pound out a few push-ups. This can often clear your head and get you back on track.
Take a Different Route to Wherever You Go
Work. School. Errands. Friend’s house. Most of us go somewhere on a fairly regular basis and we usually do it without thinking much about it. Break habits and take a different route. Who knows what or who you’ll encounter or how it might inspire a creative breakthrough.
Try Something New
Similar to taking a different route break up your routine even further. If you spend a lot of time alone make an effort to be more social or vice versa. Sometimes we need time alone to regroup even if we’re extroverts. Throw paint at a wall and call it art. Sign up for a class you’ve always wanted to take. Read during your child’s soccer practice (You can still be a good parent and not witness every single time they touch that ball.). There are probably a million books with activities to boost creativity. Do one of them. Contact me. I have lots of ideas.
Write whatever comes to mind without judging it. This is called stream of consciousness. Forget the grammar. Forget the big words. Forget sentences that will make grown men shed tears. If you don’t write sketch. Or color. Or whatever self-expression is to you. You don’t have to show anyone. You don’t even ever have to look at it again. Burn it if you want to make sure of that. The point is to get the crap out so there’s room for flow.
Like when you were a kid. I know this often seems silly to hard working, serious grownups but play has been shown to boost creativity. Many creative fields (particularly advertising and the tech world) incorporate play into the normal workday to increase creativity and productivity. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a good time forced upon you make it a priority to play as often as you can. Get out those marbles or crayons or video games when you have a free moment and remember what it was like to do something without a purpose other than to have some good, clean fun.