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Creative Blocks: How to Get Unstuck!

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I have something a little embarrassing to admit. Over the past few days I seem to
have developed a bit of a creative block. I’ve been making cups of tea, hoovering
the rug, even doing my filing, anything really to avoid the inevitable, that I have to
sit down and write. So, jumping swiftly past the obvious and amusing irony of the
situation (me being a creativity coach and all), its got me thinking about where these
blocks come from, and what I or you can do when they occur.

Things I do which make the block bigger and scarier

1. Watching TV: however much I love reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they
numb my mind, and stop me thinking. Bliss for a while, but ultimately unproductive.
Turn it off. Now.
2. Being self-critical: critical of the work itself, then critical of myself for being
blocked. Be nice, and give yourself a break. And some chocolate if necessary. If
you’re going to be blocked, at least be self-supporting about it.
3. Filing, cleaning, rearranging the furniture: all useful, but it’ll just get later and
later, and trying to move the sofa by yourself will only result in (at best) frustration
and (at worst) serious injury to self and home furnishings. It looks better where it is,
put it down and walk away.

Things I do which work

1. Doing something else: creativity thrives on stimulus, and giving your mind a
break from the problem in hand can provide new perspectives when you are least
expecting them. Go for a walk, look at the trees and the sky, or wander round a
toyshop. Anything with new colours, sights and sounds will prompt new thoughts to

2. Cross-pollination: when I have trouble writing, I go and draw instead, trouble
with a painting, I try writing about it. Sometimes I cook, or dance around the living
room. One form of creativity can inform another and increase the flow of ideas.
3. Clearing space: In “The artist’s way” Julia Cameron advises writing “morning
pages”, essentially 3 pages of long hand writing every morning. In my experience
this is one of the simplest and most effective ways to avoid any kind of creative
block. The discipline of writing, even when the three pages may be filled with your
shopping list or endless lines of “I can’t think what to write” gets your mind used to
filling space. If you can fill space, eventually some rather interesting ideas tend to
surface. It also allows you to empty your mind onto the paper, letting all those
annoying nagging thoughts, worries and ephemera flow out onto the page. What
will be left is clear space in which to get back to the job in hand, being creative.
4. Talking about it: new perspectives from another person (even if and sometimes
especially if you disagree with them) can shift a block quicker than you would
imagine. The process of explaining the problem will often act as a catalyst for the
solution, you’ll suddenly see where the next step lies. Talk about something else if
you like, you’ll still be surprised at what occurs to you mid-sentence.

Most important of all though is to DO SOMETHING! Anything will do, as long as its
proactive (even if not necessarily relevant to the task in hand). Sometimes when you
can’t explode a block, you may just find the nearest convenient route around it, and
looking back, it may not seem so big after all

Claudie Plen is a Creative Life and Business Coach with a passion for making people
more creative, successful and incredibly smiley.

Creative Alchemy – find your inspiration at


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  • Posted On November 30, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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