The cure for Creative Blocks
I would like to say that I never suffer from creative blocks. That brilliance just pops into my head whenever I want it to. Actually, I guess I could say that. It just wouldn’t be the truth. The fact of the matter is I, like everyone else, suffers from momentary lapses of creative genius. (Yes I did use the term ‘genius’.) For me, the cause of these momentary lapses will almost always come on the heels of highly successful projects and their great rewards are creative blocks. It took me sometime to recognize this as an early indicator of creative blocks in my work. It also took me some time to develop a process to work through them. Although creative blocks are as individual as the creativity they are blocking. The process for working through them is as simple as… reading the rest of this post.
Here are some of the more popular causes of creative blocks:
- 1. Telling yourself you are a perfectionist
- 2. Thinking about how no one ‘gets’ your work
- 3. A skewed knowledge of the History of Photograph
- 4. Having children (competing with kids creativity can be challenging)
- 5. Comparing your work to other contemporary photographer’s practices
- 6. New gear envy
- 7. Studio envy
- 8. Technical aptitude
- 9. Not resting on one’s laurels
- 10.Wanting to be ‘new’
No matter what the cause, you need to recognize that creative blocks are at their core, self-doubt. The self-doubt you feel from not being able to predict the future or the success of your venture. Because you are unable to see the final results, you doubt the direction, the meaning, the reason, the audience and even your technical abilities to create a masterpiece. (Of course your creative genius is going to result in the creation of a masterpiece.) Therefore your creative blocks simply put you on hold. You know what you want to create; you just don’t believe you have the faculties to create it. Creative blocks do however leave you with some creative abilities, your abilities to create excuses. Now the self-help gurus jump up and say, “take the energy you put into making excuses, get back on your horse and use that energy to create”. But the gurus are handing you a Band-Aid, a quick fix. You can’t get back on your horse, because your horse took off into the sunset while you were siting under a tree creating excuses. Rest assured though, you are about to get a better, faster, stronger horse that will kick that no good traitor horse’s *** (it’s a kids show).
The self-help gurus are correct about one thing though, it’s counter productive to expend energy on creating excuses. But the simple Band-Aids of keep on going, just do something it will come to you, try something out of your comfort zone, aren’t going to provide you with ability to overcome creative blocks. What you need is a process to get through creative blocks.
The process starts by looking into your past to go forward. You need to remember the victories of your hard fought battles, the challenges you faced to realize your dream of playing for the blue and gold. (Oh wait, that was Rudy, what an inspirational movie.) You need to take a moment and think about how many times you have faced your doubts and succeeded. Our ability to review our past to inform our future is what separates us from people who don’t think about their past successes and get stuck in creative blocks forever. Reviewing our past allows us to reveal constants in the early onset of our creative blocks and give us a workable strategy to reduce or neutralize their effects.
The process to work through your creative block
- 1. Relax and take a retrospective trip through your work
- 2. Develop a journal, portfolio or shoe box that contains work that directly relates to overcoming creative blocks
- 3. Enjoy your work, this is not a critique
- 4. Recognize the successful aspects of your work
- 5. Understand that creative blocks are really self-doubt, accept it and proceed
Refine your process by identifying the constants that lead you into creative blocks. If you are aware of what the cause or causes are you can take preventative measures to stop them before they become an issue.
Additionally you can:
- 1. Watch Rudy
- 2. If you have seen Rudy, watch it again
- 3. If you aren’t inspired by Rudy there’s no hope for you
Creative blocks aren’t about what you can’t do, they are about what you can’t foresee. Therefore, the next time you are faced with a creative block return to this process and take the time to remember your victories. Have confidence in your abilities to keep creating projects that will never be perfect, or understood, or someone’s kid could have done and aren’t really ‘new’. Now stop wasting your time reading this and go unleash your creative genius on your next masterpiece.