How to get over a creative block

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For a creative pro, a creative block isn’t just annoying – it’s possibly career-damaging. When you depend on your creativity to pay the bills as well as build your reputation, you can’t afford to be short on ideas or, alternatively, the energy to implementing them. All creative blocks are not created equal which means that different types of blocks require different solutions.

The different types of creative blocks

There are so many unique types of blocks which may hamper your creativity. Here are some of them.

The mental block

This type of block is where you become trapped by your own thinking. You’re so locked into a well-known way of looking at the world that you can’t see other options. You speculate and approach a problem from a limiting premise. Alternatively, perhaps your Inner Critic raises its head and stops you from thinking straight.

The solution is that you need to change your mindset. Question your assumptions and ask yourself “What if…?” Adopt different perspectives. Go somewhere new or read  to something new. Talk to people you can trust to contradict you or offer an alternative point of view.

The emotional barrier

Creativity can be intense. It’s not a comfortable pursuit. Faced with the unknown, you may fear what you’ll discover or reveal about yourself. Perhaps your subject matter is painful, embarrassing or plain weird. Whatever – all these fears and qualms are just various forms of resistance which lead to procrastination.

The solution is facing the worst and coming through on the other side. There are a number of things that can help such as routine, commitment as well as meditation. However, when all is said as well as done you are going to have to endure the fear, pain, or other unpleasant emotions.

People blocks

Many blocks come from other individuals. We are highly social creatures. Even the thought that a stranger may find us ridiculous is sufficient to make most of us clam up. We are also competitive as well as judgemental which can easily lead us to judge others and their ideas. This is even when we consciously know the corrosive effect it will have on them.

To solve this you need to create two conditions for people:

  • Psychological safety by accepting the person, empathising with and not evaluating them.
  • Psychological freedom to think, feel as well as fully contribute.

Therefore, group creativity is particularly tricky and why one of the basic brainstorming rules is ‘no judgement’. If you do not trust your cocreators, you might as well all go home. It is also a reason why it is useful to have a neutral facilitator who job it is to run the session.

Internal blocks

One of the most pernicious sources of creative blocks is us. More correctly, it is our subconscious and that little voice which warns us of the dangers of unorthodox thought.

A number of these blocks come from our past and these are programmed into us from an early age. We are taught to abide by the rules, be logical and not rock the boat. Our parents, teachers and peers have all assisted us to put several powerful psychological blocks in place in order to keep us on the straight and narrow socially acceptable road. A lot of the time this is quite useful however when we want to be creative, it is just a darned nuisance.

In the final analysis, all creative blocks are internal. This is even though the people and things surrounding us can still make it easier or more difficult to get into a creative frame of mind. Believing you aren’t creative is one of the very common blocks to creativity. Beware of that one because it’s a big one. Always remember we are all creative somehow but the only challenge is to find what releases our innate creativity.

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