The Uncomfortable Truth about Creativity

We’ve all been there - Wednesday afternoon, scrolling blindly, head completely empty. You wonder if you might have actually seen every image on the internet or if you will have an original thought again. This is known as creative block.

When we accept blocks as part of the creative process, we can use them to our strength. Over the years I have come to know my blocks and I quite like them now – they free me from my screen and challenge me to open up my mind and think again.

Here are some of the things I think these blocks are trying to tell us:

> Move – walk, cycle or jiggle around. Physical movement can shift the brain when it is determined to stay stuck.Get into Nature – our greatest teacher.

> Get away from your screen – follow your curiosity. It can feel like procrastination when the clock is ticking but it always helps bring fresh light.

> Talk and listen to somebody you wouldn’t normally talk to – find a new perspective.

> Get a dog – they love you and won’t judge you, even if your ideas are bad.

Deadlines, Discipline and Discomfort

A real deadline forces you to go past the foggy seedling of an idea to arrive at something that might actually have legs. Discipline means chipping away at your idea no matter what. Remember that Picasso quote about how inspiration exists but it has to find you working? That’s what I mean when I talk about discipline.

Accepting discomfort is another part of a creative process too - embrace it. In fact, I think you have to be a bit uncomfortable if you are really pushing yourself to create meaningful work. Often I have to force myself to sit down and get the moldy thoughts out of my head to let new ones flow in.

If your pencil is still doodling and your brain is saying.. ‘that will do, I think maybe everything else really has been done’, try these techniques:

Building not bashing

In the creative industries, you are taught to see things as others might, to become really judgmental. Learning how to turn this on and off, and make sure feedback is helpful rather than a bully is crucial because it can help you be less judgmental with your own and other people’s ideas. It’s tempting to throw the piece of paper out of the window but there might be a little seedling of joy in there.
Be open it.

Idea Mashing

I love to experiment with totally contradictory themes and try mashing them together. How can the topic of mental health be beautiful? Or how can the use of plastic be thoughtful? How would a hairdresser look at the problem? Could we grow it (whatever the ‘it’ is)? How would a philosopher approach a food brand? What would a banker do to help a charity?

I hope you enjoy your next block - they are a necessary part of the creative process. Please get in touch if you would like a new way of looking at yours.

Katie Steel