Oh dear. Creativity Breakthrough Day 9, and I am kind of stuck. Have you been there?
You have this idea. You love the idea. You’re working on it. You’re in love. There’s never been a truer love. It’s for-evah, you can tell.
But you just. can’t. get. it. to. come. together.
What to do?
How does this sound:
Tell yourself, “I’m not stuck, it’s just part of the process. It’ll come together tomorrow.”
Except, when tomorrow comes, magically and mysteriously, there is no time to sit down to it. The day flies by. At bed time, you remember: I forgot to have it come together. Crap. Tomorrow, then.
This goes on for a few days.
Finally, you realize there’s a nagging feeling, a ringing, an incessant tugging at you. Oh yeah, your new lover. You left it hanging out to dry unfinished, with no one to help it become its most marvelous self.
And this is how you know that denial has now morphed into avoidance: You decide, I’ll let it sit a few more days and work itself out.
Meanwhile, you look for a new love object. Nothing does it for you. You turn to [Cheetos, Netflix, cleaning out the garage] anything to fill the empty place where your true love and enthusiasm used to be.
Let’s back up. Step one was almost right. It is part of the process. It will come together. But not through avoiding it and letting it fester.
Here are 8 things to do when creatively stalled:
- Switch to another format. If you’re writing, draw. If you’re drawing, write. Or dance. If you’re writing a song, write about it in prose. If you’re making jewelry or sculpture, sketch it.
2. Keeping everything you’ve done so far, remember back when you started, that original spark that got you all excited, and start over again. Just start creating all over again. Same impulse, different day.
3. Listen to everything around you for the answer. When you go to bed at night, ask yourself to solve the dilemma in a dream. You’re in the grocery check-out. Ask yourself, is this an answer? You’re listening to your best friend complain about winter. Is this an answer? Your eye is drawn to a cardinal pair at the feeder. Is this an answer?
4. Keep faithful to your daily creativity practice. You can whittle away at your project, or you can do something else. Make a collage. Read something inspiring. Listen to music that you love. Meditate. It really is the intention that makes this time nurturing to your creative soul. And that means nothing encroaches, nothing is more important for that set period of time than your creativity.
5. And while you’re staring at the page, or listening to the silent guitar strings, ask yourself, what might this be about that I absolutely, positively am not equal to at all and therefore cannot do, don’t want to do, and refuse to do? In other words, what have you closed off to, in your rush to create a finished product? See if you can allow yourself to play around with the impossible for a while.
6. Copy it over, whatever it is. I find this really helpful for writing, lyrics, songs, essays, letters, anything verbal. Just copying it over in a different form can change the way you see it and reveal something new about it.
7. Talk about it, even if just to yourself. Sometimes putting it into words can help you to understand what is going on and what needs to happen.
8. If it’s completely abstract, make it physical. Lay out your chapter headings on pieces of paper on the floor. Do a mind map with stickies on the kitchen table. Make a clay model. Build it in snow, or dirt, or marigolds.
Last Sunday, I posted my song in progress tidbit for you, and today, I can report that I’m not finished, but my impasse has resolved. And I’m at a new impasse. Yay for progress.
I’m still in love, and I believe that with dedication to the process, I will have an aha, understand what the song is trying to tell me and be able to share the whole thing with you. The way I solved my impasse was to sit down and write about for 30 minutes. Which brought me to a new understanding, and a new mystery. Ooh-la-la!
So, what are some of your favorite ways to navigate a creative fog bank? And what scares you the most about them, and how do you create anyway?
© 2017 Phyllis Capanna. All Rights Reserved. All artwork in this post by Andrew Goldsworthy. Check him out on this page, which is pretty comprehensive.