Creative block can be agonizing for people who experience it, writers, students, researchers, artists, musicians, professionals and amateurs alike. It also has other widespread negative consequences.
Many of us who have experienced Creative Block will recognise the feeling of frustration coupled with self-recrimination. The internal nagging voice which says, “Do I have anything of worth to say?” or “Will it be good enough?” stops us in our tracks. The accompanying feeling of anxiety, agitation and self-doubt can be debilitating.
There are many things we would like to have expressed but hit a wall instead. It is sad to think of the many ideas and potential projects that have remained stuck, wasted. Instead, we have turned to other “vital” activities, such as cleaning the fridge, weeding the garden, hitting a few balls at the golf range, and all manner of “crucial” tasks which suddenly become much more important. Frustratingly, our procrastination may cost us dearly. For example, a recent idea for a business development was scuppered by someone with a similar idea, who had not been bogged down by wanting to get the text “just right”.
From a Psychotherapeutic Perspective
It is unfortunate that many people live with life-limiting beliefs which they could quite effectively be worked through. From a psychotherapeutic perspective, different factors may be at play. One such factor is grandiosity where we exaggerate some aspect of reality and thought processing whilst ignoring the details required to define the problem. Conversely, we employ discounting where we subconsciously play down our capabilities. Another factor is driver behaviour where the “Be Perfect” driver raises internal demands “to get it right” before risking committing to paper. Failure to be perfect can lead to extreme anxiety.
Another factor is procrastination, where we put off or protect against the fear of “not knowing enough yet”, by endlessly drawing out the planning process, taking copious notes, and allowing the project to become so out of hand that it never happens.
Revealing our ideas can be exposing, leading to feelings of shame and a need to hide or escape.
Psychotherapy addresses the feelings of threat and the underlying conflict which have been stirred up at an unconscious level.
How creative block can be tackled
For those of us affected by creative block, there are several ways we can help ourselves.
- We can give ourselves permission to be imperfect. Perfection is the enemy of creativity.
- We can learn to enjoy the ebb and flow of our activity, enjoying the process, rather than focussing entirely on the end product.
- We can release the tension in our minds by changing focus, exercise, play an instrument, listen to music, make a jigsaw.
- Explore our strengths and our vulnerabilities. Our inner voices are often at the root of creativity. By listening to the creative force of our inner Child, we can experiment with playfulness and pleasure, allowing for mess and chaos. It is important and OK to not always get it all right or to be perfect.
- Start again. You will find new energy. Ideas which previously were held back as if in a mist will start to come to the fore.
- Experiment. Just put something down on paper. While the underlying conflict may be heightened by the prospect of putting ideas on paper, the very act of writing can be cathartic.
- Creativity is really a healing process.
In my role as a therapist, I meet many people who get stuck in the process of putting thoughts and ideas onto paper or canvas. Meaningful and relevant work gets blocked in their heads, held back by psychological issues. With help this can become unblocked.
Creative Block is responsible for the loss of many new ideas and developments. The loss of this creative energy is potentially all our loss.
Annie Hay 2010