Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Invisible Creative Blocks


Do you have an invisible creative block??
Some creative blocks are obvious. That dead smell coming from the drawer with the unfinished novel in it, the cobwebs across the studio door--these might be clues. 

But maybe you're not stalled or tortured, not scratching your head raw hoping a light bulb will sprout out of it. You've tamed the worst of your procrasto-gizmos, and things are coming along quite well, thanks, whether you're creating in the arts, at a job, or in daily life.

Some blockages to creativity have subtler symptoms. Here's a random sample of hidden jam-ups that may mute your joy, ruffle your peace and stunt your leaps as you create.


Groove Turns Into Rut
You're grateful for your success. But you've been doing the same thing the same way for so long that you can do it in your sleep, and you do (snooze). People clamor for more of what you're known for, what you do so well. You wouldn't want to risk a flop by trying something new. You're not sure you could get along on short rations of approval or money now that you've gotten used to having them.

Bound for Glory
If your internal talk-radio shouts fiasco predictions while you're trying to create, it's no surprise when you lose momentum. But if that inner DJ spins out lavish praise in advance, woohoo! you're flying and feeling no pain. While you're imagining your outfit and planning your humble acceptance speech for the big award, you don't have a whole lot of patient attention left for your masterpiece-to-be in its current gawky faze. You're so busy being a genius that the mundane spadework of creating doesn't actually engage you much.

Ball and Chain You have the discipline and determination to see your project through. In the satisfaction of steadily accomplishing what you set out to do, you hardly notice that you haven't surprised yourself in a long time. While you were keeping control of yourself and the process, the thrill and the fun sidled out the back door without saying goodbye--they didn't want to interrupt your serious work.

Reverse-Perfectionism Those poor saps who niggle at every irrelevant detail have really got a block (yes, they do). You, on the other hand, are zipping along, making good time towards your destination of being done with this project and on to the next thing. If you cut some corners, well, you were built for speed. You're the kind who sees the forest and doesn't bother with the trees. But did you really see the forest (much less take a soulful walk in it)? In your rush to the finish did you deny yourself the beautiful depth of view that was down a side road, off the exit you blurred right on by?


If you find yourself bound up in these or other limiting patterns you recognize, congratulations! Finding where you are is the first, crucial requirement to moving on. Even Houdini couldn't get out of a box he didn't know he was in.

All creative blocks originate as fearful thoughts--fear of failure, success, or embarrassment, fear of people's opinions, fear of change, etc. And no matter what their content, thought patterns can change.

The good news about blocks, hidden or obvious, mild or miserable, is that they happen in your head. Recent research shows that your brain is much more flexible than previously known. It has a huge capacity to free itself from its own old patterns and structures as needed, and to create new ones.


The topic of neuroplasticity is on my mind lately (pun intended). Read more about the liberating implications and how you might apply them to your own limiting patterns in this post: Fun With Your Plastic Brain

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How does this apply to you? How might you get more oriented towards your own unblocked clarity, inspiration, resilience and ease in the midst of the nitty-gritty of your particular challenges?

Sometimes a coaching conversation can throw open the doors you didn't even know you'd shut on the freedom and capacity of your own mind. If you'd like to talk over the possibility of working together, answer a few questions here, and we'll set up a time to see if we'd be a good fit. 

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