It’s time to discuss the dreaded “enemies” of your creativity. Anything that stops the natural flow of creativity is known as a block. There are many different reasons they occur and it requires some work on your part to re-establish that creative flow.
There are several thieves of your creative time. These are the blocks to your creative thoughts and ideas. But don’t be afraid; while they may seem daunting, you can learn the process of deflecting them.
Sometimes, daily life itself is the thief of your creative time. Perhaps you worry about caring for your children, or even elderly parents. If your day job is time-consuming or boring, you might dream of time to just let your imagination go where it wants. Ill health might also be your greatest worry and time stealer.
Here’s the first place to let your imagination take over and help you find that creative time you need. Creativity over your daily life is your first challenge. All you need to begin with is a few minutes to yourself. Use your journal to record the problems you face and practice coming up with some creative ways to work through them.
The hardest part is learning to focus on one challenge at a time, giving it your conscious and subconscious attention. If your life is very stressful, that just means you need the creative time more than ever. You must give to yourself, or you’ll have nothing to give others in your life. Dr. Phil McGraw said, “You can’t give from an empty cup.”
I can hear you right now saying, “When can I possibly find time to be alone and think about anything but my problems. There’s so much to do, so much to accomplish, and not nearly enough time to do them all. Where do I fit in time for myself?”
If you come home from a long day of work, and then have small children demanding your time, it’s actually a perfect time for a little creativity. Playtime with them in the form of coloring, playing with clay, and reading are ideal ways to exercise your own creativity. They are also great ways to relax. The benefits to the children are that you are helping to build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Children love doing things with their parents. Praise them lavishly to help boost their own creativity and self-worth. If you’re responsible for older people, try some board games, card games, or hobbies to connect with them and spur on your own creative forces, as well as theirs.
Then give yourself a few minutes before bed to sit quietly and think your own creative thoughts. Meditation is an excellent way to teach your mind to focus and concentrate on your own creativity. When you go back to your journal, you may be pleasantly surprised at how successfully and creatively you’ve solved any problems you’ve faced. Making meditation a part of your day could make all the difference in your mood and your health.
You’ve discovered that being busy, and yet finding creativity in your life, is very possible. But there are other obstacles you may have to face. Sometimes you may find that you have conflicting goals, or have not positively defined those goals. You might have a great deal of competition at work, and you might be confused as to how to take advantage of opportunities you feel are necessary to your career advancement.
Here’s yet another opportunity to put your creativity to the challenge. As with any problem, you must first define it precisely. You cannot progress forward without knowing exactly what it is you want. Once you’ve defined the goal, it’s time to set out the steps to attaining that goal. What do you need to get from Point A to Point B? You need a plan. Here’s where your creativity can help you again. Make your plan, deciding how to get what you want, step-by-step, complete with a time line if necessary. Then follow your plan.
Zig Ziglar said, “You can’t hit a target you cannot see and you cannot see a target you do not have.” It’s essential to have a plan in mind, a goal to achieve, a road map to what you want. In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.
Without a definite goal in mind for your life and your creativity, you may find yourself going along with someone else’s plan that’s not necessarily the right one for you. Go with your own creativity and find what’s right for you personally.
Yet another enemy of your creativity is anxiety. It’s hard to focus on brilliant ideas if you’re feeling anxious. And while anxiety is not the ideal place in which to work your creative magic, it can be used to your advantage at times. Oscar Wilde said, “The anxiety is unbearable. I only hope it lasts forever.” You can use that anxiety to spur you forward and keep you moving.
Other obstacles you may encounter are lack of self-confidence or fear of criticism. You must remind yourself that you are a highly creative person. Take steps to learn what you need to know to develop that creativity and your self-confidence. As for criticism, you must learn to let it roll off your back. There will always be critics in your life, and you must learn the art of ignoring them.
You may even be a bit self-critical concerning your own abilities. That inner critic is the worst of all of them, because that’s the one you hear all the time. This is the voice in your ear saying, “What makes you think you can come up with the creative answer to this problem? Who do you think you are anyway?” It takes some practice to learn to turn off the inner critic when you’re in the middle of creating something, but it’s important that you do.
Procrastination is one of the worst blocks to your creativity. “As soon as I get some extra time, I’ll get to that creative project.” “I’ll tackle that new project this weekend, after work.” “As soon as school is back in and the kids are out of the way, I’ll get to that special project.”
You know you’ve done exactly that; you’ve procrastinated day after day, week after week, month after month. Yet you never seem to get around to that special project. Sometimes, you can actually use one of these enemies of creativity to inspire you. The well-known “Round Tuit” is just such an innovation. It’s a yellow circular piece of rubber, stamped with “Round Tuit” on one side. At one time, it was “the thing” to give to your procrastinating friends. They’re always waiting until they got around to it; well now they had one.
That creative project, that hint of a brilliant idea, that nugget of creativity continues to sit at the edge of your mind, mocking you, calling to you. It’s so close, you can almost touch it. You can almost get your hands on it. But it stubbornly stays just out of reach. It taunts you, “Leave all that other stuff and come be creative with me!”
Procrastination is one of the hardest blocks to dispense with, because it feels like a legitimate excuse. After all, you’re so busy, you got so much to do, and so many people depend on you and demand your time. It’s so easy to keep putting it off, until you never get to it at all.
There are many types of procrastinators. There are those who wait until the last minute and tell themselves that they work better under pressure. Pressure or no pressure, they still don’t accomplish anything.
There are those who either fear failure or perhaps fear success, so they avoid the project. This group would rather be thought of as lazy than without the necessary ability to accomplish the goal.
It just feels like you’re being pushed, and no one likes being pushed to do anything. Trouble is, you just don’t feel thrilled about doing whatever the project is. So, you avoid it as long as you can, giving excuse after excuse.
Lastly, there are those who simply cannot make a decision, thinking erroneously that if they make no decision, they’re not responsible.
The last block that is so difficult to deal with is that of perfectionism. You’re never satisfied with what you accomplish – it’s never quite right, it’s not “perfect,” others may not like it, etc. Many writers experience this syndrome. They write a few pages, then start the editing process, thinking it will be easier than if they waited until the story or book was finished. The problem with that theory is that you will never get past those first few pages. You are always stuck in the editing process and you will never finish at all.
Many people get so stuck in the “perfection” rut, they eventually give up the project altogether. Their reasoning is that if they can’t get it just right, why bother finishing it? This is positively destructive to the creative process.
Since there is no such thing as perfection, then striving for it is a useless pursuit and a waste of your creative time. There are cultures and groups around the world who remind themselves of their own imperfection by deliberately including a flaw in their art. The Japanese call it a “wabi.” Amish quilt makers always include a deliberate flaw in their work, to remind themselves that men and women are not perfect.
In this case, we must return to the childlike model of creativity. Children don’t care if they get something perfect, they just love doing it. They just keep on trying, regardless of how many times they fail to achieve perfection. Remember the time when you were a child and failed to accomplish something to everyone’s satisfaction. “Just do your best,” your mother told you. “All you can do is your best.”
“There is no failure, except in no longer trying; no defeat, except from within; no insurmountable barrier, except our own inherent weakness of purpose.” – Anonymous
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