This post is about a theme that most creatives struggle with at one point or another and I want to share the methods that have helped me overcome creative block and how you can use them too. These methods are not something that will require you lots of work and training, they are easy to implement and you can start right after you finish reading this post.
The first one is perhaps no surprise: Daily Meditation. I started meditating some years ago and at first I thought it was very difficult to take 20-30 minutes of my already full day to meditate. So I started with 10 minutes right after I wake up.
There are lots of meditation techniques you can use to achieve what is called no mind, like focusing on the breath, or listening to the sound of silence, or doing a body scan, and other techniques that are very useful, but for the purposes of this post I like to use some of my meditation to increase the creative flow.
First, go an sit down on a comfortable chair, in a quiet space (very important) and close your eyes. Place your hands on your knees and straighten your back. Sit comfortably and relax your face. Search for any tension around the body and take 3 deep breaths and exhales. try to match the length of the inhales to the length of the exhales, so we even out the rhythm of the breaths.
As you sink in deeper relaxation, notice every thought that comes up, without grasping to it or following the thought, just notice it and let it go. Continue breathing for a few more breaths and when you are feeling relaxed and open, start to allow the thoughts around your creative issue arise. Let them come up and without judgment start to make inquiries, ask questions about them, imagine different scenarios and allow your creative genius to take over this process.
You will find that your imagination will begin to offer solutions, other possibilities and perhaps incredible insights. If you find yourself judging the process and getting impatient, allow that feeling to be there and know that that critical state will pass.
I advice you to continue the practice until you get to the state where there is no critical mind because that space is where you will unleash your true creative self.
The second method I use is The Morning Pages. This method comes form the seminal work by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. I strongly encourage you to read the book.
So this method is about writing 3 pages of anything at all. The rules are that they be one of the first things you do as you wake up, maybe after your 10-15 min creative flow meditation, and that it’s 3 pages long. the purpose of these pages is to let anything blocking your mind to flow. It can be a description of your dreams, or something that is worrying you, or a recount of a book you read, or a letter to your mother. But you must finish the 3 pages. That’s all.
Do it everyday and you will see amazing results. In my experience, I have had amazing insights not only about my creative work, but also about my relationships, about myself, about old things that were bothering me for years, etc.
It essentially gets you prep for your day, It helps any critical voice to come out and stay in those pages so you are free to let your creative genius come out during your day. It sort of sets the pace of the day by letting the mental drains unblock.
The lat method I’d like to talk about is what I call The Questioning Method. This method is all about asking probing questions about the issue we feel blocked about. I have found that most of my creative blocks come from my own critical mind, so for me it’s all about debunking my inner critic’s argument and actually winning the case for myself.
So for example, if I have a project I want to do but I feel i am not good enough for it, or that my ideas are not good enough I begin to question that argument. So I would ask, why do I feel my ideas are not good enough? and then wait for an answer. If the answer is: because everyone else’s ideas are better… the I would ask why do I think everyone else’s ideas are better?, then wait for the answer… keep questioning these answers until you get to the bottom of the issue. This method can be very emotional because we find that at the core of our inner critic are old beliefs that are not even ours. These beliefs once observed become quite ridiculous.
To Seal this exercise I advise you to write down the counter argument. Write down all the times you have had amazing ideas and you have proven to yourself to be good at the task, or similar tasks. So creating a list of your victories will help seal the questioning method and put you as the unchallenged winner between your inner critic and your inner champion. The more you nurture your champion, the less you’ll hear of your critic.
Hope these methods are helpful. they are very practical and you can start today to practice them. For me they are a crucial part of my creative tool kit!
Until the next time!
Diana Simpson Hernandez
Founder of Designers for Humanity