Firstly, there’s the frustration — not being able to do something you love, that normally works like a dream.
Like getting into your finely-tuned, lovingly-polished car, turning the key and hearing a pathetic splutter. Or hitting the ‘Jump to Lightspeed’ button and watching the stars just sit there while the TIE Fighters close in.
Secondly, there’s the professional anxiety. If you’re a graphic artist, will you meet that deadline? If you’re a portrait artist, can you still cut it for your clients?
Last and worst, there’s the identity crisis.
You’re a painter, right? Painters paint, right?
So who are you if you can’t paint?
Logically, you know that’s nonsense. But try telling yourself that at 3 am after another day when the sum of your efforts would fit comfortably inside a Tweet.
Now, there are many different types of creative block, and plenty of ways to tackle them and get back in the creative zone.
But before you start examining this particular block, and tinkering with ways to deal with it, there are three critically important things for you to remember.
Unless you remember these three things, you may not have the energy to do that tinkering. It’ll feel like a hopeless case.
1. Only artists get creative block
Beginners don’t get creative block.
When they sit in front of a blank canvas and nothing comes out, it’s because they haven’t learned how to do it yet.
To be blocked, you have to have been creative in the past. You have to be an artist.
So, you are still an artist.
2. If you’ve done something in the past, you can do it again
This is something I learned way back when I first struggled with creative block.
Your ability to create is still there. Maybe latent, but it’s there all right, deep in your nervous system. You don’t need to start again from scratch — just go back to what you were doing before.
- What was it like when I could create easily?
- How did I feel?
- What kind of thoughts went through my mind?
- What was I doing differently?
Then pick one or two of those things you used to do, and start doing them again, today.
3. Your creative block is temporary
How can I be so sure?
Take a moment to remember the other times you’ve experienced creative block.
Each time, you were probably racked with precisely the same fear — that you’d never create again — yet you came through and you did it.
Statistically, this block will likely be the same.
It feels like the end of the world … it feels like you’ll never create again … until something changes, life goes on, and the images come back.
You will be creative again.
If you can’t create anything else, write this
Take a sheet of paper and a pen. No keyboard — you need to feel these words as you write them out longhand.
Write these words on the paper — slowly.
- I am still an artist, a creator
- I still have the ability to create
- I will create again
Put them in front of you and read them until you feel them.
If it helps, read them out loud. Keep repeating the words until you feel conviction in your voice.
Do this every day when you feel blocked.
Remember these three things, repeat them until you feel them in your bones, and you’ll start to relax.
And the more you relax, the sooner the words will return.
How do you deal with creative block?
Which of these three things is most important for you to remember?
What would you add to the list?
Any other tips for beating creative block?
Let’s discuss these questions in the comments …