Lets begin with there is no formal definition for the term “Creative Block” from an encyclopedia because it derives from the definition of “Writer’s Block.”
Here is the common definition of “Writer’s Block” from our friends at Wikipedia.
“Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity.”
*My Personal Definition: I am beating my head against a virtual wall and the golden egg of creativity is NOT falling out!
COMMON CAUSES OF CREATIVE BLOCK
There are a variety of causes of Creative Block. These can range anywhere from: anxiety, depression, procrastination, time management, rejection, brain lapse/fry, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism and a plethora of other conditions. Here is a link to check out other common blocks to creativity from our friends at Creating Minds.org
TWENTY WAYS TO OVERCOME CREATIVE BLOCK & A TWIST OF ACTIVITIES
1) ALWAYS KEEP A NOTEBOOK
This concept encompasses keeping a notebook, journal, sketchbook or any means of allocating ideas on paper. Make SURE you have a writing utensil available. Even if you can’t get to a notebook in time, make sure you have something to write with.
Go to the local discount store, bookstore or art store and pick out a notebook that personifies your unique persona. Sometimes a notebook will personally choose you. (My personal favorites are the leather bound Celtic patterns with refillable booklets). Think of this as rule number one. Carry a notebook with you everywhere! No one ever knows when or where the brainchild of creativity arises.
2) MUSIC ENHANCES THE CREATIVE SOUL
Being honest, I do not have a musical bone in my body. Some living souls are not given the gift of voice, rhythm, composure or grace. This is WHY there are people with that special gift, to enhance OUR creativity!
Try to find one good reason that music doesn’t enhance our lives. There is a different genre for every emotion, function or time period. With advancements in technology, everyone should have a plethora of music flowing for every personality type.
Create a playlist/CD entitled “Creative Block.” Place music in it with whatever get’s your visionary wits and adrenaline flowing! Think of THIS playlist as your own personal encouraging pep-rally!
3) EXPERIMENT IN OTHER MEDIA
This theory can range from a variety of options including: viewing another types of media, taking a class, or buying economic friendly art supplies and trying something alternative in your studio. It is however you feel most comfortable.
It is time to charge WAY out in left field when it deals with experimentation. This exercise teaches the perfectionist “non-perfectionism” a major “Creative Block” ingredient. If your main focus is painting, try another media and for lack of a better term be “dreadful” at it. It gives a new perspective in your comfort zone and can dilate new ideas! The positive exposure to other forms of media may result in finding that you are a natural at something you never tried before!
3) FIND YOUR INNER CHILD
A very wise person once said, “Find the 5-year old inside.” Apparently, most individuals consistent a consistent strive for perfectionism. Adult responsibilities can cause anxiety and hinder original creativity.
This is not an easy undertaking. As artists, most are 5-years old inside, but the natural process of “growing up” changes everyone into adults. Adults think about family, bills, money, family, pets, insurance etc…
It is time to play! Everyone’s definition of playtime is different, but it is an exercise to bring out your inner child. Here are some ideas for playtime: go to the park and swing, finger paint, play a sport or play a board game with a child. It is really good therapy to have a child with you. If you do not have your own child, find a family member or friend that needs a night out and offer to sit. Children’s minds are not shielded like adults. Re-learn how to be a kid again!
4) GET OUT OF DODGE!
I am not suggesting taking a vacation to Tahiti (unless you want too), but it’s time to get away from your office, studio or the source location of your creative block. Technically, it is as easy as just walking away.
*Through personal observation of creative teams, business people and artists here are a few ways “Creative Block” usually starts: the perpetual head rub, the sigh, grunt or growl, banging on a keyboard or mouse, scribbling really hard with a pen or pencil. I’ve seen it escalate to the point where brushes, monitors, pens and other close objects become possessed and fly across the area or space where the individual is located. I am giving you fair warning. If you see poltergeist activity run away!
GET OUT OF DODGE! It is time to walk away from the situation and take a 10-minute breather. Force yourself to do it! You will be very thankful later and so will the $70 brush you paid for last week!
5) GO OLD SCHOOL!
As with most creative minds, everyone has a collection of bins, flat files (those ones stuck under your bed or in the back of a hall closet, uh-huh), portfolios, essays, resumes etc…from times past. If you really want a self-esteem boost and get a good laugh, travel back in time.
Dig around your house, garage, attic, closet, or a family’s house. Find those “Old School” projects. Take the time to look, read, and go through it ALL! It is a sure-fire confidence booster and gives a great laugh!
6) LAUGH FROM YOUR TOES TO YOUR BELLY!
A person may not notice it in everyday life, but really stop to think and ask, “How many times have I laughed until I cried or peed my pants lately?” It is scientifically proven as a stress reliever. It eases the mind, helps with medical conditions and is a plain good time.
Don’t believe me? Check out http://www.rxlaughter.org/letter.htm
Dig in the back of your brain for those times you laughed so hard until your belly ached. What were those triggers? Here are some ideas: watch the funniest movie you ever saw, go to a comedy club, read that hilarious E-mail someone sent or find that special friend you ask to tell that hilarious same story over and over again. The point is, find what triggers that giggle bone!
7) BUST OUT YOUR BEST SOUL TRAIN! (For those who remember what Soul Train is).
It is time for DANCE, DANCE REVOLUTION! I believe Steve Jobs Apple iPod 3G advertising campaign really nailed it on the head! Remember, the black silhouette ads with people dancing to their favorite song wildly! It was a great ad campaign. I don’t think he realized the ideas he was giving to the masses. Yes, he wanted to sell the new iPod 3G, but in the overall picture was to DANCE freely!
You can check out my favorite iPod 3G commercial at:
*Special Thanks to applejuicevideos’s Channel! http://www.youtube.com/user/applejuicevideos
It is time to bust a groove! Pick your favorite “get psyched” song and dance your little heart out. (You can do this in private if you don’t want other people to see you dance). Crank up the music and dance! Let it all out and be free for five minutes! You may be tired, but it is a good time and boy does it lighten the boulder on your head!
If you are not a believer yet, check out the American Dance Therapy Association Website at:
8) VOLUTEER IN THE COMMUNITY
There is not a better feeling than volunteering for an organization you really care about. So many volunteer programs are waiting for people like you! Even if you have time constraints and personal obligations, you can fit in an hour a weekend and volunteer your time.
It is helping the community, developing personal connections and learning. Being an active participant transmits good vibes and can inspire even the most mentally blocked individual.
If you’ve never volunteered before, ask yourself, “What am I really passionate about?” It can be anything from the Human Society, Working with Children and Art, Meals on Wheels, Adopt a Family for Christmas, Toys for Tots or volunteering at you child’s school. Another good example is to donate artwork to a woman’s shelter or children’s hospital. There is nothing more inspiring than helping your community.
9) GO TO A BOOKSTORE, LIBRARY OR ARTIST SUPPLY STORE
These are great places to hang around because creative inspiration is everywhere. Anyone can look at books, magazines, art supplies and everything in between! It may surprise someone with what happens when you take a gander at calendars, the 50% off rack, or be around the smell of coffee or fresh paints.
Next time you GET OUT OF DODGE, stop by a local bookstore, library or art supply store. It is about getting your senses flowing. You can apply all 5 senses from smell, touch, auditory, sight and taste. (Although, I wouldn’t recommend opening a tube of paint and tasting Permanent Sap Green)! Creative clues are in this world and one may spark in these beautiful unforeseen places. The point of this isn’t to go buy, rent or spend a $1,000 on art supplies. It is just “being.”
10) BE AWARE
Sometimes, it isn’t so obvious to be aware of your surroundings. Individuals come and go. They take the same drive to work and have same routine everyday. This gets mundane and drains the fruit of inspiration. Despite what the news says, we are in a wonderful age and are given many things like industry, technology and Mother Nature. We must be thankful for so many things to be enamored and amazed. It is time to stop and REALLY smell the roses!
Pick a spot and just sit. It doesn’t matter if it is a curb on a street, a park, back yard or a coffee shop. Sit and soak up everything around like a sponge. Look for natural patterns and shapes. It may turn into something that you’ll never look at the same way again!
11) HUMAN OBSERVATION
Next time you run into the coffee shop to get your ventisoysteamed180degreesnowhip2pumpwhitemocha, have a seat and enjoy. Watch the people, the employees, hone in on conversations and body language. I know a writer who did this and wrote an entire screen play based on one human interaction!
Take time on a lunch break or a weekend and find a café, restaurant, festival, or somewhere in the general public. Get something to eat or drink and sit down to observe human interactions and connections. Make sure you have your notebook with you! You might find yourself pleasantly surprised on your discoveries!
12) INTERNET ENHANCEMENT
Unless you live under a rock or are boycotting the glorious WWW, it is a virtual highway of creative information! If you cannot get a creative idea, you are not googling hard enough! If you want to spark ideas, search artists’ web sites, trees and nature, blogs, YouTube Videos, science and don’t forget Social Media! It is a blessing brought into our lives! (Well, unless you are that one guy. No names will be given)!
“YouTube is MY Inspiration for new songs and guitar playing techniques.”
~Robin Stonestreet – Musician, Father and Business Owner
~Robin Stonestreet – Musician, Father and Business Owner
If you are on a computer ALL day, usually the last thing you want to do after work with techno brain fry is sit back in front of a monitor. Here is the catch; you can look for what YOU want! If all else fails, go to the infinite YouTube.com! Take a tutorial, watch a music video and research something different! There is a plethora of information out in cyber-space for imagination station!
Want to take your mind off of a creative block? Face a fear! This process can sincerely be mind cleansing. It takes a person out of their comfort zone. Many artists, writers and business people have some sort of a fear or phobia. Focusing on this fear can create a mental brick wall!
Start small. First, try the path of least resistance and build up. If you have a fear of heights, go to the playground and go down the “small” slide. If you can accomplish this, go down the “big” slide. DON’T over-do it and go bungee jumping, you will be sure to have panic attack or mental breakdown. It develops self-esteem and motivation. Clearing fear or phobia blocks helps loosen the mind and empower the soul.
*Disclaimer: I, Marie R. Stonestreet, will not be personally or professionally accountable for bodily damage or mental breakdowns, due to a bad decision on your part. Always remember, if a statement starts with, “Hey watch this…” it is NEVER A GOOD IDEA!!!!!! (Sorry, I had to put that statement in here. I told you NOT to go bungee jumping and will not be liable for acts of ignorance or GOD).
14) TAKE A PERSONALITY QUIZ
Have you ever thought maybe you need to learn something about yourself? There are artists and white collars alike that have no indication of their personality style. This can cause blocks in making connections, living the life you choose, or maybe choosing things you are really passionate about.
Time to take a personality quiz! I would suggest taking the right brain/left brain quizzes. They are all over the Internet. As a personal suggestion, I would take at least ten. Each are about 5 minutes each with 20 questions, but you can get a good base to derive a conclusion on which side of the brain you are using.
Try this Right Brain/Left Brain hemispherical quiz first to get started:
Next, try the Carl Jung Briggs Myers typology quiz. http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
Make SURE you have time to sit down and ponder the answers to the questions. You have to understand these tests may not be exactly who or what you are. At the same time, you might find out something about yourself that may help cut that creative block or point you in the right direction!
15) EXERCISE & MEDITATION
It is a scientific fact, if you exercise endorphins build up and you get what some call “runners high.” You feel good about yourself, body and soul. If exercising isn’t in your vocabulary, go down another path and try meditation. By clearing the mind and spirit, you can move forward. Both are spiritually cleansing and enhancing.
As again, from our friends from Wikipedia here is the definition of Endorphins.
Try to fit fitness into your schedule 3 times a week. It can start by taking a walk, yoga, Pilates, cardio or if you are hard-core go to the gym and take a spinning class! Another option, try stretching every morning for 10 minutes helps get the blood pumping, muscles moving and helps release toxins.
Meditation on the other hand can be a difficult task. First, try it on your own with a CD or soft music. I suggest finding a reputable meditation class to learn the basics. If not, the silent space in your brain can go haywire! It is about clearing and connecting with your mind, body and soul. It is NOT about focusing on what bills need to be paid next!
16) TIME COMMITMENT
Sometimes individuals have to develop a time commitment. Whether it is 15 minutes or an hour a day or an hour a week, make it a pace comfortable for you.
Start by taking 15 minutes and just stare at a piece of paper or canvas. It is about the fact you made to stare at a piece of paper. Next, see if you can write a word or paint 1 brush stroke. Baby steps! You NEVER want to force too much because it can become a negative experience. It is an exercise focusing on progression and positivity!
17) GET ORGANIZED
I have found the horrendous mess stalking my desk or studio, along with the sense of impending doom tends to block creativity. First, I thought getting organized was my way of procrastination, but quickly realized once items were purged and in order a brain can feel free to create. I believe it’s the mundane task of getting organized opens your brain’s creative space.
Take a “me” day or a lunch hour and clear your personal space. It may not all happen in one session, but at least once a week start purging and organizing. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this paint tube from 1900 that is busted, cracked and dried?” Well, probably not. “Do I really need that pile of paper that could be shredded and recycled?” I am guessing no. Once your space is clear, open and organized you have opened a wormhole to your creative sensors!
18) MAKE CONNECTIONS
I can’t emphasize enough, how important making connections are in any field. You find people with common interests, philosophies, or someone totally amazing that you never thought to talk to. However you put it, you are working on COMMANDMENT #10 from my previous blog, The Ten Commandments of a Traveling Artist. YOU MUST HAVE A SOLID SUPPORT SYSTEM!
There are a variety of ways for introverted and extroverted individuals to make connections. Join a local art organization or society. SOCIAL MEDIA! What more could you ask for with connections at your typing tips! Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc…join groups, artists or businesses that spark creativity! Everyone needs a real or virtual high five! It helps working through ideas, brainstorming and learning about other processes. It is a win-win situation!
19) TIME MANAGEMENT
Time management may possibly come easy to some, but for others it isn’t in their vocabulary. Everyone needs to manage time effectively to some degree. If not, what would ever get accomplished? In relation to the infamous “creative block”, having inefficient time management skills can hinder the time to create, think, write or have personal time.
If you are an individual who happens to fall into the category of “less than adequate” time management skills, here are a few tricks to organize your day, thoughts and creative process.
What do you have? Everyone has a notebook now! When changing habits, always start slow or culture shock will set in. First, make a list. Hey, that is easy! Write down what you want to accomplish for the day. DO NOT beat yourself up if your write in your list 300 goals and nothing gets accomplished. Try to be realistic.
Start the first day with one goal and the time it takes to accomplish this. Next, work up to 10 REALISTIC goals a day. Make sure to allocate an hour of time in your list for the “just in case.” This is a buffer and if you need it use it. If you don’t need it, get ambitious and focus on a goal for the next day. Once you figure out where the holes are in your day and the “why” of no accomplishment, the sense of looming “creative block” will start to melt away.
20) STAY POSITIVE!
On a final note, negativity is the DEATH of creativity. Even if you have to recite the little choo choo train’s mantra “I think I can, I think I can,” keep it positive! If a person chooses the cynical path at the fork in the road, they are sure to go further down the creative block spiral.
As a good best practice, when you are having a bad day counter act it with one positive thing that happened and focus on that event. It can be anything positive. Anything from you made someone laugh, you got the right brush stroke, you finally found the word of your expression, saw a child smile or let someone in traffic that was stuck. Just stay positive!
I am not the expert, the gatekeeper or the key master of “creative block.” This are just tricks I learned over the years to help myself and now help others.
I am going to leave you with a few sentimental values. Fill your life with happiness and joy! Whatever your belief system, if you are on this planet once, twice or 9 times make the time you have count! My personal favorite brand of clothing is the “Life is Good” brand. I believe that if I wear the positive and believe in the positive, the positive will return.
FINAL QUOTE – Jody Uchekwo
“Climb a tree, walk through the dark woods and into a massive open field, laugh with your children/hubby/ friend, cry, see what’s happening around the world, write a poem, sleep, don’t sleep, forget yourself and dream.”
Dedications: My husband Andrew and my son Kegan for being my diamond rocks of life, my adventurous Held In-Laws for making me open my eyes and really “see”, my Stonestreet side of the Family for my work ethic and independence, my friends, my co-workers past and present and finally MYSTERY FAN #100 on my Facebook page who helped me reach my three digital “like” goal! Love and Light!