Saturday, September 10, 2005

Creativity Blocks-Using them to Build

I've been thinking of writing blocks, art block and the fears and stagnation that can occur from time to time. Thankfully I'm not hitting any right now, but just in case, I'm making note of ideas and techniques I've found that help me when they do happen. Some of the worst blocks I get are from fear. Fear of failure, fear of not reaching certain expectations (I could write a whole book about expectations and the traps involved with them)
Fear of success, fear of creating something ugly, weak, or lacking. Wasting my time. (now there's an adult concept for you. I'm sure kid's don't sit down to paint and get the idea that they may be wasting their time. They do it for fun, and because it's fun to mix the colors and express themselves)
Anyway, back on track to the blocks..there are financial pressures, unrealistic expectations of 'perfection' after only a short amount of effort or time, comparison with others who are gifted in ways we are not.
So, in order to deal with the blocks, here are some techniques and ideas I use. They all work. Some work better than others depending on what's causing the block. You'll know what works best intuitively. It works a bit the way the body craves certain nutrients without the mind necessarily knowing why.
*Take a walk
*Take a nap (I often resist this idea, but the creative flow that comes from it is well worth the time that seems to be 'wasted' during a nap)
*Take a shower or bath
*listen to rich music in whatever style I crave
*eat chocolate
*Take time to laugh. Don't take yourself and life so seriously. A merry heart maketh good medicine. Having goals doesn't have to take all the fun out of life.
*drink a good cup of coffee
*work out hard, make sure to sweat
*weed whack (seriously..this works really well)
* visit a bookstore, thrift shop, or someplace with multicolored objects to touch and view. It isn't necessary to buy anything, the point is to look and touch things. I used to visit an amazing fabric shop with fabrics, buttons and doo-dads from NYC. I wish I could still visit that shop, but we've moved from that area....then I visited a yarn shop nearby (dangerous for the budget, because the textures & colors of yarn were too much to resist)
*play outdoors
*bake something delicious...brownies, cookies, anything to fill the house with a homey aroma..and result in yummy food.
*light delicious smelling candles
*sharpen my colored pencils (by the way, I found a wonderful-low cost pencil sharpener at Wal-Mart. It's an Exacto brand pencil sharpener, and the quality is fantastic! It is just a plain old fashioned style sharpener...not electric or hand held. It's the kind in elementary school. I love it and highly recommend it. My electric one was becoming too dull.
*draw, paint or write just for fun
*clean or reorganize studio area
*think of someone you love and create something for them, or with them in mind.
*Hang out with other imaginitive creative folks (or people who have a passion for what they do)...whether they are artists, carpenters, musicians, dancers, knitters, scientists, writers, teachers, coaches, athletes,...
hang out with people who have a passion for what they do and watch them do it. (I love watching people who have a passion for what they do. Ask them questions, learn from them) I guarentee you'll get your energy back after hanging out with upbeat people who love what they do)
* If you must whine, do it and get over it. Give yourself a time limit. Don't waste time whining for too long. It can be a bad trap.
Don't waste too much time on self-pity either. It doesn't get you anywhere.
*look at inspiring magazines, photos, books, art.
*Julia Cameron's book The Right to Write is fantastic to read as well.
*reevaluate where the block is coming from and if it is from an untrue source, such as a vague sense of unworthiness as an artist, don't listen to it. If it is due to financial pressure, that's a tough issue. Financial pressure can make some people more effective, while it cripples others. It's complex...not sure what to say about that one except to be easy on yourself.
If the block is coming from discouragement, take a break from what you are creating and do any of the above, or create something in another medium or venue...knit, cut paper, use crayons, use markers or something not normally used.
Most important, and above all, kick that thought out that you are meant to be perfect, and that everything you are creating has to be perfect (perfectionists have it hard as artists, and most of us tend to be perfectionists) None of us are ever going to be perfect. Even the master artists have underpaintings showing areas they repainted, fixed, tweaked, and most suffered with self-doubts for their whole lives.
*Give yourself freedom to create art that stinks. (although I find this one very hard, it's really the best "block breaker" of them all)
*Tell yourself before you start...."If I finish this piece and it stinks, fine..whatever...I'll do it again. It's not the end of the world if I hate it. It's not the end of the world if anyone else thinks it stinks." Just think, at least you tried, at least you are working toward a goal, rather than slogging along like a bump on a log.
There's a proverb in the Bible that I says something like "In all labor there is profit" I'm not sure if I have it exact here, but it sets me free to realize that even if the end result of what I'm attempting doesn't meet with my preconcieved hopes and expectations (it doesn't usually) it's fine, because I learned something, practiced some more and hopefully had fun doing it!
Another thing is to realize that
* This too shall pass- it's just one of those days of periods of days where things aren't flowing as well as I wish they would. Maybe it's a resting time, maybe there are other stresses affecting my work and energy. Everyone has days, and even longer periods like this..human nature.
There's a great article in the art newsletter about art and it's healing nature. There are other inspiring links there as well.

No comments: