The blocked artist is the worst and most frustrating position to be in as a creative. You want to create. You need to create. But nothing flows. You try to find the zone, but you’re not sure if your even on the same planet.
Writer’s block is something we’ve all heard about and probably all experienced. Especially in school when you had to write a 10 page essay and that first page is still blank and staring you down. Lots of thoughts are going through your head, but most of them sound like, “This is the worst assignment ever. I have no ideas. I can’t think of a thing. Yup, it’s completely blank. Nothing. Crickets. Can I write about crickets?”
Creatives often mistake this block as a void of ideas. You can’t think of anything to put on the canvas. Your words just aren’t coming together into a coherent thought. The wheel is turning, but there’s no clay on it.
The problem isn’t the lack of ideas. It isn’t a void and you’re not used up. The blocked artist is, in fact, blocked. Clogged up with lots of very un-creative things to the point where nothing else can squeeze past.
You live in the real world. As much as we creatives like to create our own environments and escape to more beautiful places in our minds, you still have day-to-day stuff to deal with. Things like laundry, dishes, shopping, and schedules.
You may not realize how this stuff really builds up, but it does. It’s like the creativity flows off the top and then all of a sudden all this mundane sludge rises to surface. It’s boring and frustrating and hindering. But you just can’t seem to get past it. The creative block is lodged in place until you move it.
The good news is that you can move it and it’s really not that hard. And it doesn’t really take much time.
Here’s the super simple and minutely creative way to unblock. Write it down.
Every random thought that pops into your head. Every thing that you need to take care of. Every frustration. Just take 30 minutes and write it all down. On paper. With a pencil. Clean out the debris that’s keeping you blocked. Think of this practice as artist’s Drano.
As you write, there will be action items that pop up that you know you’ve been procrastinating on. Nothing will keep you blocked longer than ignoring something that NEEDS TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW! Make a list of action items that come out of your 30 minute brain dump.
Then go do them. Don’t put it off any longer. You’ve got creative stuff to do.
Think of it this way. Your plate is only so big. You like the exotic stuff, the fancy treats, the rich flavors. But sometimes you have to eat the peas and carrots to make room for the delectable desserts. Everyday responsibilities are the peas and carrots.
Art is dessert.
You’ll find, after you’ve emptied your mind of all the IRL (in real life) stuff that’s been keeping you blocked, the fun stuff bubbles up. When it happens again, (it will) you will know how to take care of it.
Creativity starts with the mundane. Pottery starts with a mound of clay. Poetry starts with the ABCs. Jewelry starts with rocks.
Unblocking is easy. It starts with 30 minutes of random thoughts. On paper. Until you have something to work with. Get your creativity flowing again.
How often do you feel blocked as an artist? Do you find keeping a journal helps you ward off feeling blocked? I’d love to hear what you think. Comment here.