Creative blocks are anything that get in the way of creativity. They plague everyone who is trying to be creative. Whether you are an accomplished artist or inventor or just beginning to explore your creativity, we all experience creative blocks at times. This episodes explains seven common creative blocks and shares some tips and tricks on how to move past them.
What You’ll Learn
- Seven common creative blocks you might experience
- Tips to move past your creative blocks
The Weekly Challenge
Pay attention this weeks to the creative blocks you have in your life. Notice which ones show up when. Besides the seven mentioned in the episode what are other creative blocks you have? Share in the comments section what you notice. Then next week in episode 22 you will learn about ways to combat those blocks and boost your creativity.
Upcoming Workshops with Amy Climer
From Conflict to Resolution: Managing and Mediating Conflict at Work – November 6, 2015, Milwaukee, WI
Feel like reading instead of listening? Download the free PDF Transcript or read it below. Enjoy!
Transcript for Episode #021: Identifying Your Creative Blocks
Amy Climer: Hi everyone, welcome to The Deliberate Creative Podcast episode #21. On today’s episode we are going to talk about creative blocks. Creative blocks are those things that inhibit creativity and squish that creativity out of you. But first I want to share with you some awesomeness in the form of an iTunes review. This is an iTunes review from 88CHRISH and the title is “Excellent” 5 stars. 88CHRISH says, “This podcast is fantastic. I’ve been listening to it on my commute and I find it educational enjoyable and even fun. Amy knows her stuff and teaches it in an easy to understand way full of examples and stories while always being sure in time history and data. Her guest speakers are wonderful as well. I’ve been doing work with teams for years so while some of the information is not new to me, how she is presenting it and then the connection she’s making between creativity, team dynamics and skill development is new. Her style is down to earth and she shows a clear passion for her work that she wants to share with everyone. She’s humble and funny and her enthusiasm is contagious.” 88CHRISH, thank you so much. That is so awesome. So kind of you. If you are listening and haven’t written a review, I’d love to get a review from you on iTunes. You can go to climerconsulting.com/iTunes and you can write a review right there. If you need detailed instructions on how to write an iTunes review you can go to climerconsulting.com/review and there are screenshots that lead you through the whole process. So thanks again everyone who has written a review. I love it and helps the Deliberate Creative Podcast to rank better on iTunes which means more people will find it, more people can learn about creativity, and share what you all are enjoying.
Let’s talk about creative blocks. I think of a creative block as anything that closes the door on creativity. Really there’s all sorts of things that we allow to block our creativity. There are things that we do personally to ourselves that prevent us from being creative. There are also things that other people around us do that could prevent us from being creative and block our creativity. So let’s talk about those creative blocks. I’m going to explain seven of them. These are in no particular order.
Number 1: Our Own Inner Voice [2:47]
The first one is our own inner voice. You know that voice inside of your head that’s always talking to you and telling you things about yourself like what you should or should not do. That inner voice is incredibly powerful. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s the voice that I’m talking about. Our inner voice has the ability to build us up or tear us down. It’s really a matter of what do we listen to. I have found over the years that you can actually train your inner voice to talk to you in different ways and you could talk back to your inner voice like “I’m not listening to you right now. I’ve got other things to do.” That inner voice is incredibly powerful. Take it with a grain of salt if it is not giving you some good vibes. If it’s telling you, “Oh no, you can’t be creative. Oh, why do you even bother? That drawing doesn’t look like anything you are trying to draw.” If you are hearing those kind of messages, you can just say “Shut up, I’m busy right now.” and get back to what you are doing. That inner voice is so powerful. Try to squish it or at least make it more positive.
Number 2: Perfectionism [3:52]
So #2 is related to our inner voice and #2 is perfectionism. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is the idea that whatever I do it has to be perfect. If I’m putting together a report or PowerPoint presentation, or a drawing, or I’m coming up with a new creative idea, or recording a podcast, or you’re posting a blog article, or whatever it is that you’re doing. The idea there is that it must be perfect because other people are going to see this. They are going to judge me on it and I want to make sure that I look good. Well, I recently have been listening to “Steal the Show” podcast by Michael Port. I just bought his book and it’s about just being a better speaker and performer. It is interesting and a highly recommended podcast. One of the things that he says that I love is – Are you doing this for approval or are you doing this to help other people? Are you doing this for results? If you are doing it for results, it’s great and whatever you produce is going to be fine. But if you are doing it for approval, that is where the perfectionism comes in and gets in your way. No matter what, it’s not going to be good versus when you focus on what are the results. How do I make this so that it gets the most results for the people that it’s aimed for? I’ve done presentations in front of fairly large audiences and had a typo on my slides. You know it’s not a big deal and sometimes I say something about it, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I kinda laugh at myself up on stage. What I realized is that people don’t really care that much. I mean obviously you don’t want all these typos on every slide, but one little thing like that is not a big deal. We really get caught up in ourselves. We worry about perfectionism and doing things perfectly. Actually what I feel like to some degree perfectionism is all about ego and there’s a certain point where I just like feel like “It’s not about you, let it go.” It’s not about you looking good. It’s about doing the work and being more creative and innovative. I know that if I were still working on making this podcast perfect I would not be on Episode 21 right now. In fact, episode zero wouldn’t even be published yet. Try to let go of that perfectionism. It can be really powerful.
Number 3: Wet Blankets [6:17]
This is a phrase I got from Julie Cameron who wrote “The Artist’s Way” which is an incredible book. I absolutely love this book. It really had a profound impact on me and my creativity. Wet blankets are people who smother out that flame inside of you. It’s just like “whoosh.” You know, you are talking about something creative and they make one comment or give you a look or something that just smothers that excitement out of you. Wet blankets can be people who we know really well or they can be people we don’t know that well. Our family members can be wet blanket, spouses, your kids, coworkers. They are all around us. Best friends and close friends. When I first learned about wet blankets I started identifying who in my life might be wet blankets. It also really changed who I spent time with. There were some people that I just decided that these are friends who I really don’t want to put energy into this relationship anymore because what I realized is I’m not getting the energy back. In fact, I’m getting some really negative energy almost like a vampire sucking the energy out of me. What I wanted is relationships that are positive where there is mutual sharing of energy and relationships that were supportive of me. I also learned over time that it’s best to not share your creative endeavors with everyone. So there are certain friends of mine where especially if I’m doing something artistic or creative in that regard I don’t necessarily tell them about it. Not because I’m trying to hide it from them, but it’s not what they value. They may inadvertently make negative comment about it because they don’t understand and they’re not passionate about it. So we spend time doing other things together and talk about other things. That’s okay. Just being able to identify who do I tell this things to and who do I tell those other things to. Being able to find people who can support you and not be wet blankets can be incredibly powerful. I would highly recommend reading “The Artist’s Way.” Julie Cameron has a whole section in there about wet blankets. What I learned is that sometimes wet blankets can be incredibly nuanced. Sometimes you don’t even think about them as wet blankets because on one hand they are really being positive and on the other there is something really subtle underlying you don’t even pick up at first.
Number 4: Chores [9:05]
The #4 creative block is chores around your house. It is amazing how many times I have found myself in a situation where I had some time to put towards a creative project and I thought, “Before I get to that, let me just vacuum the downstairs, I’m going to put in some laundry, and I’m going to clean the kitchen.” You know all that together might take me a good hour or so. That is an hour that I’ve lost towards that creative project. I’m not suggesting don’t do chores around your house or avoid all cleaning. But what I’m saying is that sometimes we do that as an excuse to avoid being creative. Because sometimes creativity is hard. We talked about that in episode 18 with Dr. Elaine Gale. We were talking about how sometimes it’s hard to sit down and be creative. Chores is a great excuse to avoid that and you feel like “Oh, I’m being productive and I wanting to do that.” What I have found is, of course, there is a certain point where I have to do the chores, but I’ve also found that I am actually capable of being creative while the kitchen is messy. I used to not think that. I used to think that everything has to be neat and organized before I could be creative. What I found is that’s just a complete myth. That was something I made up in my head. I can actually handle it quite fine.
Number 5: Media [10:36]
Number 5 is a huge creative block for almost all of us and that is media. Facebook, Twitter, TV, Netflix, YouTube, this great article that I found on Facebook that I just have to read right now. It’s on upworthy.com so it’s really positive. Yup. There’s all sorts of excuses we tell ourselves. Media can be a huge creative energy suck. How many of you have been on Facebook and then you look up and say “Oh my gosh I’ve been on Facebook for 45 minutes, what the heck? I just meant to make this one post.” So just really pay attention to how much you spent time on that. I would recommend turning off notifications on your phone especially for Facebook and Twitter. Set aside time to actually go to this websites or app. “Look I’m going to spend 20 minutes to go on Facebook and catch up with all my friends. Then maybe set a timer, then leave. One of the things I found myself doing is I want to go on Facebook to post something, often it is even related to work. I open up Facebook to go in. Immediately before I post I read the first post of a friend and the next thing I know I’m scrolling down and 20 minutes have passed. “Why was I here? Let me close Facebook.” I go back to whatever I was doing before and I immediately remember so I open Facebook up again and I don’t really care if I get sucked in again. So a solution for that is to use an application called Buffer or Hootsuite or probably there are others as well. What these apps do is there are ways to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., but you are not actually on the page. You can also schedule posts ahead of time if that is appropriate with what you are doing. I find I’m more task oriented and less likely to get distracted if I just got to Buffer, type in my post and then I get out quickly. So pay attention to how you use media and when you’re sucked into media because if you want to be creative you have to set aside time for it. You might even try something like not being on media for the entire week and see what happens. No Netflix, no TV, no Facebook, Twitter, no YouTube videos and see if you can even get away without reading any articles or anything. See if you cannot read anything for the whole week. You might find it’s kind of amazing that how much time you have all of a sudden. Put some time in doing some creative projects.
Number 6: Blank Canvas Conundrum [13:08]
Number 6 is what I call the Blank Canvas Conundrum. This is the idea where you sit down to work on something creative and there are so many possibilities that you’re just staring at the page or at the canvass or I don’t even know what to do staring at the computer screen. There are too many options. Creativity can be enhanced if we eliminate those options and narrow down our focus. So that’s the Blank Canvas Conundrum.
Number 7: Micro-managers [13:40]
This could come in the form of somebody else. Somebody that you are working with. Either a colleague or a boss or even a spouse or partner. It also can really come from within. It goes back to number 2 that is perfectionism. Micro-managers are the ones who are like “Okay, here is the project for you to work on. Okay great, I’m looking forward to this.” As soon as you get started, they are saying, “Oh wait, not quite like that.” Then they might say “Oh I didn’t actually mean for you to make that decision yourself.” Or they come back the next day, “Hey, I gave that to you yesterday. I don’t understand why it’s not done yet.” It’s like “Oh my gosh, how am I going to get this project done.” I must be creative with all these bombarding of extra direction. Basically if you want people to be creative you have to give them some autonomy. So if you have some micro-managers in your life you might talk to them about this and see if they can give a little bit of autonomy and see if they can step back a little bit that will give you some space. If you are micromanaging yourself, remind yourself of that. It’s not about making it perfect.
So these are the seven creative blocks that come up all the time. There are surely not the only seven. There are many more out there. So if you are listening to this when you get a chance go to the shownotes and type in what are some other creative blocks that you have. The shownotes can be found at climerconsulting.com/021. Also on the shownotes you’ll find links to all the resources that I’ve mentioned like “The Artist’s Way” book, etc.
We’ll just do a quick review. We’ve talked about seven creative blocks.
- Your inner critic
- Wet blankets
- Chores around your house, around your office
- The blank canvass conundrum
Weekly Challenge [15:55]
Next week’s episode we’re going to talk about creative boosters and what are the things you can do to really enhance creativity and get past these creative blocks. But before next week here’s your challenge to help you prepare for next week’s episode. So this week I want you to identify the creative blocks that you experienced. Just pay attention. Just take notice. You don’t have to make drastic changes this week. We’ll look more into some solutions next week. Just think about and pay attention to how much you use media or what is your inner critic saying, or how often you use chores or other small tasks like that to avoid something more in depth, some more creative process. So pay attention to that this week. I’ve said this before in a few previous episodes – I want to make an invitation to you all that if you have topic requests or questions about creativity or themes you want answered on the show, send me an email and let me know. You can email me through my website at climerconsulting.com. I’ll try to incorporate those in our future show. I have definitely incorporated listener’s questions in the past and I’m happy to do that again. Also if you want to get more great content about creativity and innovation you can go to my website and sign up for my newsletter and I send that out occasionally. It really should be every month or every other month or so. You’ll also find out there links to free webinars that I might be doing, free workshops, especially if you are in the Wisconsin area. I regularly do workshops around here about creativity and innovation that I open up to the public for free. Speaking of workshops for the public, I am doing one on November 6 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is a workshop on conflict resolution. It’s through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Continuing Education Program. Unfortunately it’s not free, but you can find the link and more details on shownotes at climerconsulting.com/021
If you haven’t already go like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, tweet about this podcast. Hope you all have a wonderful creative week. Pay attention to those creative blocks and see what you notice. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye.
Note: The links on this page may be affiliate links. That means I get a small commission of your sale, at no cost to you. However, I only share links to products that I or my guests believe in. Enjoy them!