Several years ago, I taught a college seminar called Exploring the Creative Process where we did just that: explore creativity theory and our own creative processes while employing lots of tools in building and broadening our creativity. I had 18 amazing students who had different talents, and our conversations were broad, interesting, and provocative for all of our creative processes.
One of the truths of the creative process is that there are productive periods where you are able to pound out all sorts of your creative product (blog posts, jewelry, painting, chapters, poems, music, or whatever your creative medium is- and, truth be told, far more is creative than you think) and fallow periods where, subconsciously, our productivity diminishes while our mind receives inspiration and percolates, subconsciously at first, with ideas until, finally, it works out all the details and blurts out its idea while you are showering, driving, walking, cooking, or whatever (have you ever noticed that your AHA! creative moments most often come while you are doing a little something else? That’s no accident. Those ideas are waiting for you to be a little bit engaged in something else so that your filter- the one that says, “Oh, no, I couldn’t”- is distracted, and you can receive the idea without commentary from the peanut gallery that is your filter).
Because after I wrap creative projects, I often fall into a fallow period, and I’m in a fallow period right now (but need to get out by, let’s say, Wednesday), I returned to my old lesson plans for the Exploring Creative Process seminar to see what suggestions I had then for busting through the creative ruts. Since we really need those periods to glean information and inspiration, the rutbusters I suggest are really about giving your mind time to percolate and experience. It is by feeding your mind and soul that you can ultimately feed your creative spirit. So, here are some ideas for creative block rutbusting…
Patiently wait until you are inspired
Do your homework— do all the research you can around a creation that you are contemplating, feeding your mind with as much information as possible
Create an inspiration box
Write down all of your fears
Create a ritual to kick off your creative process.
Learn about the creative process.
Give up the need for approval- by doing so, you free yourself and your creative spirit.
Delete distractions: put yourself on a reading, tv, or shopping fast (whatever you do in lieu of creating what you must create).
Don’t multi-task- do things one at a time.
Enjoy some solitude.
Interview yourself—what happened? When did it happen? What distracts me?
Take Julia Cameron’s advice from The Artist’s Way. Go on an artist date- a solo adventure to a place that will feed your well like a book store, museum, music store, etc.
Take a walk.
Know when to stop tinkering. Just begin.
Do at least one thing differently- take a different workout or drive to work route, eat a totally uncharacteristic meal for you, mix-up your morning routine, etc.
Write down your thoughts—no matter how inconsequential.
Now, your turn. What are your rutbusters?