7 Ways to Break Through a Creativity Block

Creativity Block: typist at work.
Creativity Block: typist at work.
This typist is at work in the Ministry of Information, 1942. When you’re given everything you need to type, there’s no creativity block. But when you’re working on that next article for a newspaper, you can’t let little things like that stop you. Photo: Public domain, via Wikipedia.org.

What is a creativity block? Quite simply, a creativity block is a barrier that stands in the way of some activity. It manifests itself as a scarcity or complete lack of ideas.

Why this topic is important should be self-evident.

Education is about far more than memorization, repetition and obedience. It has to be about learning to think and to create. Part of that ability to think is the ability to solve problems for which you have not yet learned a procedure. In other words, students need to learn to navigate uncharted territory. Perhaps surprisingly, they can begin to learn this at a very early age.

When a student learns to be creative or to express an innate creativity, we need to nurture that ability. When the student runs into a wall, where creativity suddenly stops, the student needs to be able to figure out ways to overcome those barriers, whether it’s writer’s block, artist’s block, music writer’s block or even rap writer’s block.

With the techniques, below, you can cure writer’s block or any other kind of productivity or creativity barrier.

An Example of Overcoming a Creativity Block

Creativity Block: writer Wallace Irwin at an artist's easel
Wallace Irwin may have been a writer, instead of an artist, but he seemed to have little problem with creativity block. Photo: J. Weston & Son, Folkestone (PD), via Wikipedia.org.

Many years ago, a gallery owner in downtown Los Angeles wanted to display my artwork in a one-person show. There were a few paintings available that I had not yet sold, but I needed to paint several more to supplement the display.

I was ecstatic. However, when I returned home, my mind was as blank as my next canvas. For several minutes, I sat in terror that I might come up short. Then I had an idea that broke through my “artist’s block.” I call it “priming the pump.”

Whether you’re a writer, fine artist, graphic artist, fashion designer, entrepreneur, or scientist hungering for that next breakthrough, these techniques can be useful for removing a mental logjam.

7 Ways to Restore Creativity

  1. Priming the Pump—Do something simple to practice your skills. As an artist, I took out my sketchpad and drew several things in my immediate environment. Within minutes, I had more ideas than I had time to produce. As a scientist and also as a writer, I have written detailed descriptions of objects near me. This can do wonders for getting the creative juices flowing again.
  2. Brainstorming—Having a few friends with good attitudes can be very helpful here. No judgment of ideas until the brainstorming session is done. The wilder the word association, the better. When you’re done, you may have some real gems in the rough.
  3. Take a Break—Frequently, a problem can seem to become worse with a frontal assault. Dropping your attack altogether can sometimes melt the barriers between you and a solution. Take a long walk. Exercise. Watch a favorite television program or watch something completely different.
  4. Sleep on It—I’ve lost count of the times I’ve meditated a minute on a problem, then went to sleep, waking up the next morning with the solution. Sometimes, I’ve even woken up during the night with the answer I needed. I remember a story of a scientist attempting to understand the molecular structure of benzene. He had a dream of a snake seizing its own tail. The rest is history.
  5. Parallel Inspiration—If your creative block is in one field, visit a different field of endeavor. Look for inspiration there, but also enjoy it for what it is. If you are an astrophysicist, try a lecture on forest ecology, or go to a ballet. The key is to grant value to everything around you. If someone can invent lasers by looking at traffic signals, your next breakthrough might be sitting at your elbow.
Creativity Block: old water pump
An old water pump, like the one pictured here, gave me my first method for breaking though a creativity block. Photo: Lisa Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikipedia.org.
  1. Confidence—Hold an attitude in the background of your mind that a solution is yours. Don’t leave room for doubt. The breakthrough to your creativity is waiting for you to find it. I snap my fingers and say, “Got it solved!” And I do this with feeling. I make it believable to anyone who may be watching, including myself.
  2. Humility—Be willing to admit that you may have asked the wrong question. If you’re looking for a creative way to win the heart of someone special, be willing to realize that the right someone special may not be the person to whom you have been directing your efforts. If that other person despises you, then your confidence (above) could descend into arrogance. “I’ll make her love me!” Humility can also help confidence find a different way to overcome the barriers. The solution may be something of which you have not yet thought. As an artist, humility can be useful in keeping your art fresh. Even a Picasso can reject their own work and strive for something better.

These last two can work together and with the other methods. Humble confidence is a powerful combination, though at first it may seem counterintuitive. The key to this combination is to have an attitude that you will reach your overall destination, but the path may be something completely unexpected.

Now, imagine an educational institution that teaches these things and empowers its students to go beyond what is taught. With such an ability, overcoming writer’s block, artistic block or any kind of creativity block, becomes easy.

What applications can you see for these techniques in your own educational environment?

Learn More About Creativity — Buy The Spark of Creativity

Creativity Block: Book cover
The Spark of Creativity cover

There are an infinite number of sources for creativity. This book shows you how to find them. The author gives real-life examples and step-by-step guides to building your own level of creativity. Whether you merely want to spice up your life or want to write the next great novel, this book will give you everything yo u need to establish a solid foundation in creativity and turn into a powerhouse of ideas. Buy now…

This article was published 2013:0625 on InfinityDynamics.org, and originally published 2009:0913 on Blog.AncientSuns.com.


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