Clearing the Channel

Once a creative block is recognized, a few simple steps may be all it takes to get the creative flow moving again.

Creative blocks can strike fear in the heart of many artists. It feels like a desperate situation that will never go away. “What if the creative spark is gone forever?” is the constant refrain in the brain. The frustration builds and builds. It’s like rocks in a stream. Enough rocks and the stream becomes a pond. As the rocks build and build, the stream gets smaller and smaller until eventually nothing gets through. After a while, scum builds up on the surface. How can you break that dam and get the water of creativity flowing again?

One way to breaking the dam according to Freedom.to is to, “step away from the project and take time to clear your mind before you come back with fresh eyes and new ideas.” A little time out in Nature may be just the ticket. Check out the butterflies that are loving the rocks in your stream. Let the breeze blow through your hair. Check out the clouds in the sky. Give your eyes something beautiful to look at for a bit. Take some deep breaths of fresh air.

Another way to break the channel may be to focus your energy in a different way. Ward Andrews for Design.org says, “Take on a simple, fun project that you can do well and quickly.”¬†For me, that’s drawing flowers and birds with an ink pen. Why an ink pen? Because I don’t want to concentrate so hard that I have to use an eraser. Thinking about lines and shapes without color to interfere seems to do the trick for me. I grab a piece of copy paper out of the printer and draw. Just mindlessly draw. Before long, a trickle of creativity starts to flow.

Not letting a block move into scary territory takes some work but it doesn’t have to be difficult work. Recognizing a block for what it is and realizing it is a temporary situation gets halfway through blasting the block. Keeping the panic from taking over simply requires acknowledging that there is an issue. Once you can name a block for what it is, it’s not nearly so big and mean as you first thought. In the midst of despair, look up and look out. Check for butterflies. Dig up an ink pen. Go for a walk. All kinds of new things can pop up once you get your mind off the rocks that are impeding your stream. Fun things could happen!

Some artists think a block is not at all a bad thing. Ashley Goldberg is quoted in Openup.com as saying, “I think some of the biggest bursts of creativity and artistic growth I’ve had are usually preceded by a big creative block.” When sitting in the middle of a block, it doesn’t feel at all like it will ever remotely be a good thing. Having the courage to stay on the journey and do whatever it takes to blast the blocks away may be one of those life-changing moments. As you continue pushing on, you may just begin to hear the sound of trickling water.

Before long that trickle will grow stronger and eventually you’ll have ideas bubbling up like crazy. That’s when you look back and say, “Why was I so worried?” as you race off to capture all those fresh new ideas, as the trickle becomes a stream, then a river.

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