“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
– Barbara Kingsolver
A blank page. A world waiting to be born.
That’s what it feels like sometimes when we’re beginning to write, when we’re wanting to write, or paint, or compose some creative work.
The vast expanse of canvas looks like a desert we have to cross on foot or unseeded farmland that stretches beyond the horizon.
Acres of land that must be planted one seed at a time.
This is the lot of the artist. The journey of the creative soul that longs to express.
Why does it feel so hard to create? Or rather, to get started creating? Why is it so laborious to bring our dreams and ideas to life?
So often we are waiting for the creative spark to jumptstart us into action. We feel that there is a “right time” to write, a season for our creative musings to flow forth onto the page or canvas. And so we meditate or take retreat and “be open” to inspiration,motivation, something to nudge us along.
The problem is, nothing happens while we’re waiting for inspiration. We’re just making ourselves feel better about not actually doing what we intend to do. We feel like we’re doing something but it’s actually just thinking about doing something.
So how do we get out of that rut between inspiration and action?
The key is to realize that inspiration is not something that happens to us. It something that is cultivated, actively engaged, wooed and won like a shy lover.
Think about it. If we just meditated on attracting the love of our life, we would be waiting for a LONG time. Connecting with people means putting ourselves out there, talking to real people, making actual connections, face time.
At the end of the day, meditating may move you emotionally and spiritually but, alas, we are human beings so we are also responsible for moving things on the PHYSICAL plane. Meaning, we need to take a holistic approach to moving through our creative blocks. In addition to meditating or being receptive to inspiration, we also have to take purposeful action toward cultivating inspiration in our life.
Getting out of writer’s block or any creative block takes purposeful action.
1. Analyze where you are putting your energy. Is it into creating or is it into thinking and consuming information. Creation happens through effort, through DOING. If most of your energy is being spent on researching how to create a viral article or thinking about writing than actually doing the writing, the thinking is keeping you stuck. It will serve your goal of breaking out of your creative block to shift.
2. Shift your perspective. In effect, you’re shifting your energy. View inspiration not as something that “happens to you” but as something that is nurtured and cultivated like blulbs in the winter that blossom in the spring.
3. Clarify your intention. Often the hardest part of our creative pursuits is simply getting started. And it’s hard to get started because we can’t see the path; we just have an idea but don’t know what the ultimate result will be.
It helps to clarify your intention by breaking it down into smaller pieces of the whole. In other words, if you’re trying to write an article, break it down into sections by thinking about what is the big idea that you want to convey and then what questions do you want to answer that will help support that big idea.
4. Write it down. This seems like an obvious one, but it is often overlooked. Ideas and insights are like slippery fish; you have to hold on to them while they’re in your hands.
And writing it down is an action step that will allow you to more easily visualize the formation of your creative goal.
When you can visualize it on paper, it becomes even more real. It becomes your blueprint.
5. Eliminate distractions. There are so many things calling our attention in the modern, hyper-connected world we live in. It’s great for networking and communication, but it’s bad for FOCUS.
When you’re trying to cultivate creativity and inspiration, your are sabotaging your efforts if you try to multitask.
Your creative self deserves your full attention and it will flow easier when without interruptions.
So close the door, silence your phone, turn off notifications and be fully present to your creative self.
6. Commit to your creative self. I believe creativity and inspiration is like a muscle. We nurture our creative selves by taking purposeful action toward cultivating inspiration, but we also strengthen our creative resources.
With greater commitment to our creative self and regular practice in taking action doing what we intend to do–the writing, the painting, the creating–we become more productive.
Word flow faster.
Ideas and insights come quicker.
The channel to our creative self becomes louder and clearer.
But we must jump in and reach for it. We must take action toward building that creative muscle and strengthen our connection to our creative resources.
And commit to our creative self the way that we commit to eating healthy or commit to exercising in the morning or commit to showing up at our desks every weekday at work.
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