The Secret to Overcoming Any Kind of Creative Block
Some creative blocks are just simple, logistical things and can be eliminated really easily, and some are much deeper and more complex and can take a lot longer to solve completely.
Every block can be worked through and eliminated. Each can be traced back to its roots and dissolved.
Every fear can be uprooted and replaced with empowering ideas. Every external block can be eliminated with supportive lifestyle tweaks, and every wound that manifests as a creative block can be healed.
But I want to talk about one thing that can actually help with ANY kind of block.
We all know that creating is an action. It’s not just sitting and waiting or being, it’s actually doing something.
We can do a lot of internal digging and stuff to get to the root of blocks and that’s great, but action is often the most powerful way to get through a block.
This can be intimidating and might feel weird to hear right now, because when you’re blocked, action is terrifying, overwhelming, and might feel impossible.
But the trick to taking action is to break it down into something small.
I first learned about this idea a few years ago from creative teacher SARK, who has authored a ton of colorful, really fun books about creativity and I encourage you to check her out.
She calls these little actions “micromovements”, which are tiny actions that take an average of 1-5 minutes to complete.
The main idea is this: Break down your big dreams, your goal, your big actions and projects into smaller pieces, and break those pieces down into even smaller bits.
Keep going until you have some actions that are so small that they are no longer scary or intimidating, or at least not scary enough to keep you from doing them.
Ideally, these actions will only take one to five minutes to do. Doing them might still feel like a challenge, but a doable challenge.
So start with your big goal and think backwards, about what would need to happen for that goal to be realized. Think about the actual steps, the big steps, and then break them down into tinier and tinier steps, and eventually you will get a small step you can take right now.
Let’s look at some examples. Say you have always wanted to write a book, but you haven’t written anything since high school English and you don’t know where to start or how to start. The book is the end goal, but what needs to happen in order to get there?
Think backwards. You would need to write chapters, paragraphs, sentences, words. You’d need a title. You’d need a plot, characters, a setting, all that stuff. You’d need a way to write it. A place to write. Lots of stuff.
If we break those things down into teeny, tiny steps, what could we do to get started?
We could come up with a name of a character. Any name, just a name, and write it down in a notebook. Even before that, we could buy a notebook specifically for notes about this novel. You could create a folder in your Google drive just for this project. You could write a sentence. Each of those actions would only take a couple minutes, tops.
Another example: if you want to make a series of paintings. What would have to happen to make that real?
You’d need to make each painting, which means you’d need to plan each one out to some extent, you’d need a theme, you’d probably need to draw something onto the canvas or lay in some base colors, however you want to work.
Prep work. You’d need to keep painting, add details, adjust things, title the paintings, you could pick up a set of inexpensive paints and a little canvas. I
f you already have some supplies, get them out of the closet and put them where you can see them. Set a time and doodle for 2 minutes on some blank paper. Just for a couple minutes, even if you just draw spirals the whole time.
Spend a few minutes look at art on Pinterest to get some inspiration. Squirt out some blue paint, dip your brush in it, and smear some on the canvas. Just do it, even if you end up painting over all of it later. That’s all you have to do.
If you want to learn to sing, spend five minutes googling teachers in your area, or find a Youtube video for some beginner warmups. Sing along to one song you really like and just feel what it feels like to sing.
Spend a couple minutes brainstorming some qualities that you’d like in a voice teacher, or some specific songs you’d love to be able to sing. Sometimes dreaming is an action. Dreaming can be exactly the fuel we need to get us going, as long as some action happens with it.
These are just some ideas for baby steps.
When you take action, and another action, you start picking up momentum. That momentum breeds more momentum, and you will start making some serious progress through your creative blocks and in your creative work.
Taking action is a like a muscle that you work. You do it slowly at first like you’d work a muscle so you don’t get sore, but it gets easier and easier as you get stronger in that area. The important part is starting, because that’s the biggest step.