You just... can't.
You want to, long to, but you can't.
Something is standing between you and creating, and it's a big, fat block.
Telling you over and over not to create.
Sitting down to create gives you anxiety.
You feel lost and have no idea how to go on.
Creativity becomes so hard, it's practically impossible.
It's a state that wrecks projects and kill dreams.
Breaking our creative blocks is a fight always worth fighting.
What is your block about?
A creative block doesn't come from nowhere, landing on your creativity like a mean ghost. It comes from something inside of you, something that is most likely scared.
Sometimes we can feel blocked when we're overworked or can't figure out a problem with out craft. But that's not what I call a creative block. Those are other issues, more practical and less hard to break through.
The real creative blocks, the ones that really mess with us, are the ones we create in our heads.
I've been working on a novel on and off for a couple of years, and it has been an on and off project because I created strong blocks around it. I managed to write for a while, usually at a speed so fast I didn't have time to stop and think. But when I couldn't run from my inner critic anymore, I fell back into my creative block once again.
For a long time, I didn't understand that my block was something I created myself and that I could change. I just knew it was there, it was scary and I was terrified of failing at my big dream of being an author. I thought that was it, that it was something I just had to deal with, but I was wrong.
After asking myself honestly what the problem was, I realized this:
I have set demands so high that I don't believe I can reach them.
In other words, I was setting myself up for failure. It doesn't even matter if I could reach that impossible level, because even when I thought my writing was pretty good, I kept disbelieving my own ability. I had already decided I would fail. Deep inside of me, I didn't think I could write a good novel.
I want you to ask yourself this question:
What beliefs, doubts or fears do I have around creating this thing, that makes it harder to create? Why does this project feel impossible?
Maybe the answer won't come to you immediately, but keep asking. It's there somewhere inside of you and finding the answer will help you tackle it.
Let's have a look at some common ways to build a solid creative block.
The whiny block-builders
The block-builders are uptight, whiny little voices that try to keep you on track but eventually make you stop altogether. They wring the joy out of anything with rules and demands. They're like that really nasty old teacher who completely killed everything fun with learning.
It has to be perfect!
Inexhaustibly, they seek perfection. Nothing is ever good enough. No flaws or missteps are allowed. Every little imperfection is hated and you're punished with mean names like Failure, Stupid, Embarrassment.
It has to be exactly like this!
With a plan in hand, the block-builders beat down on every step outside of it. Everything should go exactly as they want, or they will be mad! Nothing new and exciting is allowed in, nothing odd or weird. Every time you don't reach the exact vision, there will be punishment.
If I can't create this, the world will end!
Like real drama queens, the block-builders freak out when things aren't going well. Everything will be for nothing, this is your only chance, you will die a lonely and miserable death, you will fail and never ever succeed if you don't do it right now.
The disobedient block-breakers
If the block-builders are uptight teachers, then the block-breakers are the rebels at the back of the classroom. They put up their shoes on their desks, they dress inappropriately and say whatever. They may not look like it, but they are the real heroes.
Oh come on, It's just a draft.
When the block-builders freak out about a mistake, the block-breakers shrug and point out that it's just a draft. Fix it later, okay? Let's just keep moving. What is all the fuss about? It's just a little flaw, we'll deal.
What about the results, eh?
The block-builders shake the papers with F marked on them and scream in panic. The block-breakers look confused. Woah, calm down, it's not about the results, man! It's about the prooocess. And they look smug and lean back in the chair, driving the block-builders absolutely crazy.
LET'S JUST PLAY AND HAVE FUN.
Block-breakers don't care for rules and demands. It gives them a headache and they just can't deal. They're not here for some kind of battle, they're here to have fun! Life is good you know, so let's just relax and play. If it's not fun, then what's the point?
Let go and embrace the flaws
As you know, the block-breakers and block-builders aren't ghosts and they aren't teachers or students. They are voices in your head, and you can choose who you'll listen to.
When I tried to get out of my creative block, I knew I needed to lower my demands, but I didn't want to. I wanted my novel to be really good and I didn't want to release something else into the world. Yet I couldn't make myself believe that I could write that well.
The answer wasn't to read all the books and take all the classes in a desperate attempt to get better. It was to acknowledge that I had set my standard always higher than I believed I could write.
I needed to let go of my impossible standard and just write this novel as it wants to be written, at the level I can write it.
Whenever I feel anxious now, I remind myself that flaws are okay. It's about the process and about the joy of writing, not about being perfect.
To break your creative block, you need to understand what you're telling yourself that makes it so difficult to create. Then you need to bring forth other voices, make them up if you need, and focus on them.
Creative blocks come from some part of you that is really scared, probably a part that got told you need to perform to be worthy. Be kind to yourself. Creating isn't easy and it can bring deep insecurities to the surface.
When you meet your fear with kindness and propose another truth, you will find a way safely through this creative block of yours.