The best way to overcome creative block – and it’s very simple

Some days, you’ll have that feeling. You know the one.

It’s the feeling where no matter what projects or deadlines you have, you can’t seem to muster up the creativity to do what needs to be done.

Creative block is a real thing. When faced with the blank page, some days we just can’t do it.

So we run, hide and avoid doing anything creative at all. Alternatively, we press on, knowing what we’re producing isn’t our best work but share it anyway because there’s a deadline to meet.

Creative block can happen when you’re faced with writing new social media posts, starting a commission, or taking product photos. It can happen at any time.

(You know when you get up and can’t find anything to wear? That’s creative block.)

The skill is not to pretend it doesn’t happen. The skill is to gently, but firmly, overcome it. That’s what I’d like to share with you today.

 

What’s the best way you can overcome creative block, gently but firmly?

It’s not having a break and a cup of coffee. It’s not huffing and puffing and getting pissed off.

The best way you can overcome creative block is to acknowledge you are having a creative block.

This sounds so simple.

Except.

When we get creative block, we very rarely attribute our sensations of feeling stuck to ‘creative block’. Instead, we say:

“I always find this so hard”

“I never have any good ideas”

“Everyone else knows how to do this”

We assume our temporary blocked state is permanent. Our chimp brain spirals into a furious whirl of pattern-spotting, something along the lines of:

I’m finding it difficult to be creative right now … this happened the other day too … there’s a pattern here … it must be that I can’t do this … that I’m not good enough … that I’m not creative at all …

 

Our ancestors were the ones who were able to spot patterns – like ‘lots of hoofprints = dinner’s nearby’ or ‘hand hurt = fire danger’.

So our brain naturally hunts out patterns. Even when the experience we’re having is temporary. Even when the experience is about our own creativity.

Combined with any niggling self-doubts we might have, a short period of creative block ends up being a Fifth Horseman heralding the end of the world (!!).

 

By acknowledging you’re experiencing creative block, you are already on the way to overcoming it. That’s because you are acknowledging it is temporary, not a once-and-for-all ending of your creative flow.

This might sound like simple advice, but it’s the simplest advice we often forget. Instead we plunge into remedial tactics without first settling in and acknowledging ‘what is’.

(Acknowledging ‘what is’ is a technique I’ve adopted from systemic coaching techniques.)

The simplest way to do acknowledging ‘what is’ when it comes to your creative block is through specific phrases.

Try saying these phrases to yourself or writing them down when you next experience creative block.

  • It’s difficult for me to be creative right now.
  • I’m finding it hard to access my creativity at the moment.
  • At this point in time, it feels difficult for me to be creative.

 

Each of these phrases has something important in common – can you spot it?

Yes, they all explain the problem – the ‘difficult’ part. And yes, they are all about you and your feelings.

But the most important thing they have in common is they acknowledge the moment.

… right now … at the moment … at this point in time … this half hour … today … in the last ten minutes …

Our chimp brain wants to find a pattern that works forever, so it uses words like ‘never’ and ‘always’. So you need to do the opposite.

By using words which actively acknowledge that this creative block is happening right now, you’re letting yourself know it’s temporary.  That it won’t last forever. That you will recover. That you will become unblocked.

And by acknowledging that, you’re likely to become unblocked a lot quicker.


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