Dear One, are you like me? Do you sometimes get stuck creatively? Although these blocks can be crippling, fear not! We (you and I) are going to get through this, and here’s how:
1. Try to figure out what’s stoppin’ you
At the core of creative blocks of any kind, I usually find some kind of deeply rooted belief that we don’t deserve to create the life we desire. Somehow a crazy, non-serving thought slips into our head that we’re not good enough, smart enough, driven enough, talented enough, gifted enough. The list goes on. Personally speaking, I’ve struggled with this a lot in the past, whether it was my fear of not being a good enough writer/singer/musician/artist . . . you name it, just fill in the blank ____________! What have you not felt ‘good enough’ about?
The fear of failure (and of greatness) lurks perpetually around the corner, waiting for us to confront it, for us to tell it off, for us to own up to the fact that, YES, we do deserve to be the creators of our destiny! Many times we simply need to acknowledge our fears and recognize that being afraid is perfectly normal. Instead of viewing fear as some big scary monster, one strategy is to befriend our fears, or at least persist on in spite of their existence!
2. Draw it out
Get any of your stuck and stagnant energy moving. Paint it. Unleash your inner child . . bust out the Crayolas! Whatever you do, use this as an exercise to imagine all that “stuck-ness” moving through your pen, crayons or paintbrush. If you run into resistance around drawing, just start splattering paint around, or scribble out the frustration until a pattern emerges . . . or not! You don’t have to show your drawing to anyone, so don’t be worried about being ‘good enough.’ Go with the thought that any ‘act of drawing’ is an ‘act of bravery.’
3. Take a technology fast for a day or two, (or twenty-five)!
Unplugging from electronics has countless health benefits; we all know how addicting our gadgets can be. Step away from the matrix, and tune into the real, living breathing world of Nature. Take a hike, go for a run (stop to smell the flowers), lay in the grass, go to parks, go on a camping trip, read a book, journal, reconnect with friends and family, the list goes on...
If your feeling super oversaturated by techno-burnout, follow author Baratunde Thurston’s lead and go on a magical 25-day long sabbatical. Thurston realized how much time he spent sharing moments digitally, which took away from his actual ability to experience and appreciate them in real life:
“I spent an inordinate amount of time documenting, commenting on, and sharing experiences. In the process, I wasn’t fully having those experiences, since it was imperative that I tweet something relevant before they were even over.”
4. Confront the block head on...
Take out a pen and paper, and begin to address the block as if it is a real person. Ask it questions. Find out what it has to say, why it’s still there. Some questions you might ask could be:
- Why do you exist?
- Are you trying to help me, or hurt me?
- Are you an aspect of my shadow side that I’m refusing to embrace?
- What is it that you are trying to show or teach me?
- If I were to embrace you, what would become of your existence?
Just listen and learn, then move on.
5. Or accept where you’re at
If you’re not the confrontational or the introspective type, you can take the opposite approach, and simply accept where you’re at and let it be. I’ve found that when I have had a larger creative block (lasting months), I would fight it, and guilt trip myself for not being creative. This vicious cycle lasted for a while, until I eventually surrendered to it, and let go of the internal battle with myself. If you happen to find yourself in such a place yourself, just ride it out. As Eckhart Tolle eloquently puts it: Acceptance is freeing and realigns us with Being!
6. Journal and Read
Since a creative block is essentially a mental traffic jam, with negative thoughts crashing into each other, take to the pen and get the traffic flowing smooth again! Try free association writing, where you begin with one word or phrase, and write the next thing to pops up to mind . . . and the next . . . and the next! Don’t force anything, don’t judge anything, just let it flow and see where it goes. You can also open up a random page of your favorite book, and drop your finger on to the page. Use wherever you land as a jumping off point for some free association writing.
Or, write this question on the top of a blank sheet of paper? What is my mental jam about? Just start free association writing: MY mental jam? My MENTAL jam? My mental JAM? Strawberry jam! Toe jam! Pajamas! My mental is asleep! Wake up! Jam it! And so on . . . before long there will be a major message in your mental madness! Just trust the process!
7. Recognize the cycles of your creativity
Creativity comes in waves. Sometimes it all comes crashing in through your brain at a billion miles per second, and you suddenly turn into a creative machine at one with your muse. Other times, you’ll go weeks, or even months, without feeling inspired or creative. This is perfectly normal. For example, I went through a several year phase where my main creative outlet of choice was playing and learning the guitar. Nowadays, my guitar just sits there in the corner, looking all sad and lonely while I pursue DJing and music production instead.
Will my guitar be eternally cast aside? Of course not! Different mediums allow the expression of different emotions and ideas. Yet for now, electronic music consumes my eardrums 90% of the time! Recognize which waves your surfing on, and which ones are crashing far off in the distance for now.
8. Chart your ebb and flow Chart your ebb and flow
Your creative cycles have natural ebbs and flows. By paying attention to the changes of the seasons, full/new moons, and other major planetary events such as retrogrades and eclipses, you will gain insight into your personal rhythmic flows. Research what planet happens to be parked in your fifth house (the house of creativity) in your natal chart. How are these intergalactic events affecting your creative output? As above, so below! What other changes in your life might have recently taken place that are clogging up your creative drive? Maybe you’re a creative night owl who’s been forced into learning how to wake up early for your new job? It could be any number of things. Identify what has shifted in your life, and make the shift back towards creativity!
Becoming aware of these changes, happenings and cycles will allow you to ease up on yourself, as you’ll have a newfound understanding as to when your internal muse typically likes to come out to play.
9. Write a poem about being stuck
While you don’t need to write with an end goal of “unstuck-ness” in mind, writing a poem may free up your brain and shed an entirely new light on your relationship with your creativity. Just let it flow, stream of consciouslyA, without letting your mind think about what you’re writing. Here’s my example:
Oh stuck-ness, you wall of impenetrable nothing,
how you seem to exist and persist as long as my mind desires to constantly create you anew,
while the only thing to do is take two steps to the right, discovering that the only thing that’s left is all
that I’ve yet to create.
Hopefully one of these 9 suggestions has struck a chord in you! Rather than feeling stuck or stagnant, invite yourself to ‘groove on by’ and get back on the track towards self-expression!
About the Author, Anthony Scarpulla
As a recent graduate of the University of Miami with a B.A. in Creative Writing and Journalism, Anthony Scarpulla has joined SWIHA’s Online division, serving as our Creative Copywriter and Marketing Specialist. With a deep yearning to uncover the hidden, spiritual and esoteric realms of life and nature, Anthony aims to incorporate his passion into everything he loves, whether it’s writing poetry, music production and djing, to blogging, editing, and one day soon, healing work!