This week’s post ought to be a different one. But if you are reading this, something didn’t work out as planned.
The reason is, you can’t control creativity. The so-called “creative block” is an actual nightmare for those who rely on their creativity to earn a living. And no one is immune (not the best word choice here, sorry).
Yet, all is not lost. You can get your creative spark back and still come up with something worthwhile. My post is (hopefully!) a clear example of it.
So let’s jump into it! Here is what my “creative block week” left me with and what you can do to keep your creativity alive.
Creative block lesson #1: You don’t have something to say all the time – and that’s OK
“Aut tace aut loquere meliora silentio.
Be silent, unless your speech is better than silence.”S. Rosa
Being creative means finding unique and effective ways to communicate. When we fall into a creative impasse, we often blame the “operational” side of creativity, i.e. we can’t find remarkable communication strategies; we rarely look at the “heart” of creativity, i.e. what we want to communicate.
You may indeed fail at creativity because your communication approach isn’t original enough or doesn’t make an impact. But what if you got no relevant message to convey? What if you have no sincere feeling to express or heartfelt cause to defend?
For me, that typically happens with creative writing (e.g. articles, blog posts, etc.) rather than with more technical pieces (e.g. marketing content, website copy, etc.). I end up pointing my finger at creativity – or the lack of it – when I have nothing relevant to say in the first place.
But you know what? That’s OK. It’s completely fine having lukewarm opinions about stuff or having no opinion at all. And if you are still wondering, think how annoying know-it-all folks are!
Let’s also consider this. Opinions need time – and thinking – to form in your mind. I mean, you may have nothing to say about a specific topic yet. Perhaps you need some more time – and information – to come up with an opinion that reflects your values and personality.
All good when you “create for yourself” with no submission date hanging over you. But what if your piece is for a client and due date is approaching? Keep reading!
Creative block lesson #2: You don’t lack talent, you lack sleep
Unlike the scenario described above, you are extremely conscious of your thoughts on a given subject. You have strong opinions and want to shout it out to the world. But you can’t find the right words – or colours, or shapes, or whatever your creative means comprise.
So you start bashing yourself for your lack of talent, your poor imagination, your being a scam, etc. Stop it. Just. Stop.
In my experience, I fall short of words when I am tired. I find it very difficult to catch any spark of brilliance when it’s too late at night, I have had a busy day, or I don’t “feel like it”.
Does it mean I am bad at what I do? No. Does it mean I better give up on my creative career dreams? No. Does it mean I should be kinder to myself and take some time off to reignite my creative fire? Here you go.
Even the most outstanding performers have “blah” days. Who am I to be the exception?
Creative block lesson #3: Creativity always gets back
I have little to add here. If you are a creative person – and everybody is in their peculiar way – your creativity will find you again. End of the phrase.
How do you make sure you two lovebirds can reunite sooner than later?
Creative block solution #1: Get inspired
That’s easier said than done, I hear you. But still. As you do with anything you care about most in your life, you need to nurture your creativity. It takes time, commitment, and consistency. But it also brings joy and fulfilment – as well as long-term benefits to your creative process.
What follows are my personal “inspiration wall” suggestions – and some of the best advice I have ever got myself:
- Be curious and keep up with what is going on in the world: the most important question in life is “why”;
- Read. Read. Read. Have I already said “read”? Articles, blog posts, books, you name it. It doesn’t matter what, where, and when – as long as it’s not fake news. Need some help to get started? Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Magic. Go!
- Make good use of the web: the Internet and social media can be a huge creative pool to draw your inspiration from. Just be careful not to drown.
- Take a closer look at nature. There is plenty of food for thoughts out there.
- Talk to people. That’s kind of old-school advice, but it does still work well.
Creative block solution #2: Take a break
As mentioned, sometimes the answer is to switch off for a while – and recharge your batteries. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t fancy at all is pointless and may become counterproductive. So take a nap. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Work out. You will get back to work with a fresh mind and a lighter spirit.
All good, but I have that damn deadline haunting me, remember? I do.
When you have very little time left to revive your limp creativity, my advice is: take a break (again). Not a long one – so no afternoon nap here! – but you must unplug for a while.
Still looking for a quick fix? Here is what works for me:
- If you are after your next brilliant idea, a quick glance at social media may help. Feeds are stuffed with millions of breaking news, images, videos, captions and so on. Something will catch your attention for sure;
- If your creative flow has come to a halt, you probably need to boost your energy levels. Engage in some physical activity for a while. Be it a quick workout, washing dinner dishes, or taking a shower, your brain works better when your body is moving, and your focus is somewhere else. Last but not least, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated and eat regularly!
Creative block solution #3: Just start
Two words: just start. Our brain is like any other body muscle before exercising: it needs to warm up before unlocking its full potential.
Once you are into the so-called “flow state”, things get easier. Ideas pop up seamlessly, and you are able to see them all in an interconnected maze. It’s some kind of magic.
Now then, are you fascinated enough? Get cracking!