Creative Blocks Can Be Good
Reframe the Purpose of Temporary Creative Barriers
Creative Blocks. We all get them. Every single one of us will experience the closed channels to our creative capacities at some point during the creative process.
Creative blocks can last a moment, a couple of weeks, or go on for great lengths of time — sometimes more than we ever thought possible. As a source of deep frustration creative blocks can bring excruciatingly painful moments of self-doubt or long bouts of depression. I have personally dealt with periods of creative depression, and have since learned to stave off such deep melancholy with a shift in my attitude towards creative blocks.
The worst (and best) part about a creative block is that once you get past it, you can’t believe it was ever there to begin with. This got me thinking about the purpose of creative blocks, and why they really aren’t all that bad.
The topic of creative blocks has been covered many times before by all sorts of successful creative people each one identifying the different types of creative blocks followed by the various actions to take to overcome them. I have recently read a fresh stack of articles and blog posts on creative blocks, and they all continue to have one thing in common — creative blocks are defined as a problem.
I continued to ponder if creative blocks were, indeed, invented to crush us, or if there is a greater and more hopeful reason for blocks to occur.
If creative blocks are, in fact, an inevitable part of the creative process, then why can’t they be a positive source of creative energy?
Creative blocks close the comfortable channels to our creative abilities. Perhaps these temporary creative barriers are our body’s way of guiding us toward new channels of creativity, pushing us to expand our creative capacities. After all, aren’t complacency and stagnation the death of creativity? So it could mean that the true purpose of a creative block is not to stop our creative flow, but to force our creative process to change for the better.
But Change Sucks.
Yes, change sucks. Even though we want it or need it, it still sucks. It means shifting energy and changing routines. It means reframing narratives and facing fears. But there is something positive about change that wants to draw out the potential hidden within us. It is that part of you attached to starting a new habit or being curious about trying a new technique in your creative process that is begging for your attention. This nagging inner voice is your inspiration trying to communicate with you. So why do we find this so uncomfortable? Why do we choose to frame this positive voice into a negative one? Do we not want to collaborate with our own inspiration?
Honestly, the more I thought about this, the more the theme of creative blocks as a problem provoked me. Although the articles on creative blocks were written to help us overcome frustration (and I fully appreciate that, thank you.), the main message was not, “Hallelujah! At last, a creative block!” Of course not. That sounds ridiculous, right? But what if we were to reframe the “Oh no, a creative block!” into an “Oh yes, at last, a creative block!”? What if we faced closed creative channels and frustration with an inspired attitude that starts with a different statement, “Yep, it’s time to change.”
When we choose the “oh no” attitude we tend to stay blocked longer. We hold ourselves in position. We panic. We fall into depression. We give up. Because this is how we have been educated to react to creative blocks.
Truth is, all that suffering that presents itself as an ugly block is actually being driven by the inner voice of inspiration telling you something else is there. It is your creative intuition pointing you in a new direction.
So how can you meet your inspiration halfway when it feels like it is the last collaboration you want to be a part of?
Break the cycle of your mind’s thinking pattern by reframing your attitude.
There are plenty of resources to help prompt you out of creative blocks. One of my most recent favorites is Danielle Krysa’s book Creative Block. This book, like most existing resources on creative blocks, gives you a series of actions to help you move your mind to a different space; usually, one that will shift the energy away from the pressure of the frustration caused by the block. I agree this is reliable guidance. However, alongside this quality advice, I am suggesting an additional exercise for your mind, and that is to begin your actionable process of unblocking with a different attitude.
Welcome Creative Blocks with a New Attitude
When you push up against your frustration you resist change and the good opportunities that come with it. A truly creative attitude embraces your emotions, including frustration, and says, “That’s cool, we can work with this. Let’s go.” Frustration is driven by expectation. And those expectations create fortune-tellers within us. But, we cannot know what tomorrow brings, which means there is no reason to force ourselves into the tiny boxes that we once imagined without understanding that there are more options.
Shifting your attitude to one of curiosity and possibility can reframe how you view creative blocks and open new channels to allow your full potential to flow.
Look, maybe not all instances can be recovered by a new attitude. Having dealt with depression myself I understand it isn’t always that obvious, and it is never that simple. But, I have learned over the course of my life that attitude is 90% of what it means to show up.
So I rest my case when I choose to state that creative blocks are not blocks at all. Think of them as urgent whispers from your inspiration asking you for more. Your creative intuition always knows best, and it recognizes there are different possibilities. So listen to it and collaborate with it.
The next time you enter the zone of creative blocks stop for a moment to check your attitude first. Are you fighting with frustration or collaborating with your inspiration? Then empower yourself to work through your temporary creative blocks with an open and curious attitude.