Just hit the wall on this project, just like I always do. All of a sudden, don’t want to do it anymore. I want to start a new blog instead. But I’m making myself finish this even though I still have 9 blogs to go. Keeping going feels like rolling big giant boring rocks up a giant boring hill.
Maybe what I’m actually running into is some form of a creative block. I run out of ideas, things to say. I get bored and easily distracted. Maybe it’s important to push through anyway. Researching creative blocks seems like a good place to start.
What is a creative block? (lifted from Wikipedia‘s definition of writer’s block)
Writer’s block is a condition . . .in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers. It can manifest as the affected writer viewing their work as inferior or unsuitable, when in fact it could be the opposite.
How do creative blocks happen? (lifted from Freelance Folder)
OK, that makes sense. I can see all of these in my own life. I am coming off of a three year run of mind-numbing 50 – 80 hour work weeks with very little down time. Four months later, I’m still tired and my creative juju feels all dried up. So how do I loosen things up?
Overcoming Creative Blocks (lifted from 30 Sleeps)
- To loosen your creative muscles become an imperfectionist. Allow yourself to barf out ideas onto the page, the canvas, the text editor, or whatever medium you use to bring your ideas to life. Bad output beats no output, and you’ll often find that once you have something to look at and criticize, it becomes much easier to shape it into something you’ll be proud of.
- Knowledge and new ideas are the foundation of a healthy creative process. To expand your creative capacity in a given field, become deeply researched in that field. The more knowledge you have, the more reference points you have, and the more dots you have to connect and draw new insights.
- Another useful technique to expand your creative frontiers is to consciously push yourself outside of your intellectual comfort zone. One of my favourite ways to mix things up is to visit my local magazine store about once a month and semi-randomly select a few magazines off the shelf that I wouldn’t normally read. I like doing this because, with a relatively small time and money investment, I can explore new disciplines and broaden my horizons.
- Follow your inner muse and see where it takes you. If you’re a programming language designer, you could make it a point to learn a new programming language every few months. As a musician, you might try tasting a new music genre and/or group every week. There is no right or wrong way to explore; it’s all about listening to the voices that inspire you and improve your results.
- Ask Questions. Sometimes resolving a creative block involves just asking the right questions. Think up your own questions that help stoke your imagination. Whether you’re stuck for a business idea, trying to write a song, or looking for an idea for your motion graphics assignment at school, these questions could help you uncover ideas and get your groove back. Things like:
- What do you spend a lot of time thinking about?
- What kinds of things do you talk about with your friends?
- What annoys you about the world?
- What do you and your spouse argue about?
- What’s your favourite book/movie/song and why?
- What’s the craziest experience you’ve had recently?
- Write Your Ideas Down. Another way to avoid creative anorexia is to keep your ideas ahead of your output. When you get a whiff of something good, follow the scent. My own experience of creativity is that it doesn’t happen on a schedule. Sometimes the ideas just start flowing, so I write them down. If the feeling is intense enough, sometimes I’m compelled to stop what I’m doing and write the article on the spot. I’ll be reading a book and come across a passage that gives me an idea for an article, and suddenly I’ll lose my ability to concentrate on the book anymore until I’ve written the article.
- In summary, Experiencing a creative block can be difficult. It slows down your progress and makes you doubt your abilities. Sometimes it even prevents you from getting started. By understanding what causes creative blocks you can learn to have better control over your brain’s idea faucet. The best approach to overcome creative blocks is to avoid them to begin with, and that means flooding your brain with new knowledge, ideas, and experiences on a regular basis. It also means asking the right questions, and appreciating the value in recording your thoughts as they come off the wire. Learning to stimulate your artistic circuitry doesn’t happen overnight, but with enough practice, you’ll start to feel like you’re walking around with a light bulb over your head.
Hmmmm . . .