Like the first block in a domino train, certain actions can set off a series of positive reactions that can get you flowing creatively, whether your block is perfectionism, procrastination, overwhelm, lack of time, fear of failure, imposter syndrome, difficulty focusing or whatever your inner demons are serving on that particular day.
Conveniently, they all begin with S. Let’s call them The 5 S’s.
When I don’t get enough sleep, I don’t follow through on my intentions. I eat too much, and the wrong foods. I don’t exercise. I spend too much time on social media or email. I procrastinate.
And when I do get enough sleep, I do what I planned to do. I have energy. My anxieties about my creative work seem less powerful because I have the strength to overcome them.
I’ve come to think of denying myself adequate sleep as akin to dumping a cup of coffee on my laptop (which I’ve also done). My mind and body are tools I use in my work, just like my computer. If I don’t take care of them, my creativity suffers terribly.
Creative work is often done in isolation, and your inner demons love to get you alone. Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with others around your creative pursuits.
One of my favorite tools I share with my clients is Parallel Universe Time, where we meet briefly on the phone before a creative work session, share our intentions and then check in again at the end. Even if the other person is on the other side of the globe, you can feel their presence and support while you work, and it has an amazing emotional charge.
Working with an accountability partner, enrolling in a class and hiring a coach are other powerful ways to create support.
3. Systems and Structures
Creative work is, by its very nature, ambiguous. You’re inventing something that hasn’t existed before, so there tend to be more questions than answers. Developing systems or structures to follow helps remove some of the uncertainty.
Having a few blog post structures that you rotate through systematically or a certain routine you follow to start your painting sessions can help put your mind on autopilot for at least part of the time. That leaves more creative energy available to work out the parts of the process that will vary each time.
When we’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about our work, we can put it off indefinitely. There is magic in just starting. Tell yourself you’ll only work for 5 minutes, and let that really be okay. Before long, I guarantee your 5 minutes will turn into an hour. Overcoming the inertia is often all that is needed.
The twice-weekly creativity prompts I offer my Creative Juice subscribers are a good way to get things rolling. Anything that feels doable can be enough to let you start.
Your inner demons can’t hit a moving target. And a moving target with friends around really leaves those little buggers flustered!
Break your project down into small, manageable steps. Take the time to map them out. Your project will seem a lot less cumbersome, and the map you’ve created will help you feel grounded and keep a clear focus.
What works for you?
Have you found any magic bullets that consistently blast through your creative blocks? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!