There’s nothing like sitting down to write or draw or design or create…and getting nothing. Zero, zilch, nada. Nothing comes out as if the faucet’s shut completely off. Chances are you know it well, the dreaded creative block.
The block that feels like you crashed into a wall and inspiration floated away. It’s just you and the empty page. That can feel pretty hopeless.
But what is a creative block and why does it always show up when we’re trying to be our inventive selves?
Well, to answer that bluntly, clutter. Clutter—mental clutter—is what blocks us and all our well-intentioned efforts. The stuff that, unless we clear it away, wreaks havoc on our creativity.
Our own mental mess blocks the way.
How Are You In Your Own Way?
What is going on in your head that’s killing your drive? What thoughts are keeping you from taking the leap? This clutter I speak of, this headtrash, shows up in all kinds of familiar ways. Three, in particular:
- Fear. Fear of the unknown. Of failure. Of humiliation. Clutter says, Do it and you’ll be sorry! What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen if you just try? Whatever scary thing you think is on the other side of your creative expression, it’s a lie. There’s only the uprooting of fear when you act in spite of it.
- Perfectionism. You’re so worried it’s not going to work, you don’t even start. Perfectionism is like that. It beats you to the punch. Clutter says, If it’s not going to be perfect, why do it? But the masterpieces we admire today have a backstory full of revisions and edits. What is the worst that could happen if you produced the first draft?
- Time. As in not making enough of it. Clutter says, This is going to take more time than you’ve got, so might as well do something else. You’re not giving yourself time to be creative, instead you’re spending it distracting your inner genius. What if you booked appointments with yourself to be creative more often, in whatever way? No agenda, no strings, just letting your imagination run free.
How Do You Get Out Of Your Own Way?
How do you declutter that mental mess and turn the creative faucet back on? How do you get unstuck and reinspired? In other words, how do you get out of your own way?
You start writing. You start drawing. You start designing. You start creating.
You just do. You put pen to paper and go.
That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. No magic word, no golden ticket, no skeleton key.
You push all the mind-numbing, debilitating chatter and confusion aside and you START. You silence the comparisons in your head telling you you’re not good enough. You stop trying to control the process and let the process lead you. Once you start, you give creativity permission to flow.
As Susan Jeffers wrote in her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,
Often we think, ‘I’ll do it when I am not so afraid.’ But in reality, it works the other way around. The ‘doing it’ comes before the fear goes away. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
We’re each full of dreams, ideas, concepts and theories, all waiting for a chance. When you (the cluttered you) move out of the way, the possibilities are endless.
Don’t aim to have it be perfect or even final. Let whatever wants to come out, out. Even if you’re having an “off” day, just commit to 15 minutes and see what happens. Simply starting is as powerful as taking a bulldozer to what stands in your way.
Release the brilliance that only you have. The inimitable genius that is you…underneath the clutter.
When you stop being the block, you start being the artist.