By Susan Lee Bady, LCSW, BCD
Creativity, the ability to put old ideas into new combinations or to create new ideas
out of nothing is usually associated with those persons designated as "artists" -
writers, painters, dancers, singers, etc. But everyone has the potential to be
creative. Creativity can be expressed through your clothing, hobbies, home
decorations, job activities, relationships, use of time and, ultimately, what you can
create out of your life.
Similarly, everyone faces creative blocks, those moments when ideas won't come,
thoughts won't flow, inspiration disappears, nothing works and everything stagnates.
Creative blocks are different to cope with, whether you are dealing with a creative
product or some problem in your life. There are several helpful guidelines to follow,
however, in dealing with those blocked moments. They are:
Don't panic. Find a
balance. Have fun.
Don't Panic. Blocks happen to everyone at one point or another. It's a part of being
alive and trying out new experiences. Have faith in yourself that you can overcome
your difficulty because the more you have, the more likely it is that you will succeed.
Find a Balance. It is easier to overcome blocks if you remember the value of
balance in several areas of the creative process - between flow and organization,
between perseverance and relaxation, and between involvement and detachment.
Creativity is a flow of ideas, images, sounds, etc. allowed to come forth without
censorship, whether it be in the art studio, dance hall, therapy session. Too often,
however, people censor their first ideas, believing them too silly, scary or
overwhelming to consider - thus blocking themselves from the start. At those
moments remember, you can always edit the superfluous and organize the chaos. In
fact, flow without organization is emotionality, not creativity. It's just that if you
don't get all your ideas out, you have nothing to organize. Only you or your
therapist, or your close friends need see the messy parts anyway. So let it come out
so that you can have a look at all there is inside you, knowing that you will organize
and edit later.
Creativity is hard work. You must persevere at your task in order to succeed. Yet if a
block persists and creativity turns into obsession - stop. Take a break. Share your
difficulty with a friend or do something entirely different. The mind works best when
allowed to relax and refresh itself, and creative solutions often come at unexpected
moments from the unconscious when you are resting. Therapists often note that
important insights occur after a silence, or in between therapy sessions, a fine
example of the balance between perseverance and relaxation. You may find it helpful
to keep a pad handy to jot down ideas and images that occur to you unexpectedly.
And, have faith. If you believe that you can ultimately succeed at your creative
endeavor, you can more easily take a break from it, rather than plug away over and
over in frustration.
Be involved in your work. Some blocks occur because the individual is uninvolved in
his pursuit. It may please someone else, but if it doesn't interest you, you are bound
to block. During the organizing phase of your creativity, however, you need to take a
detached and objective view of your work. Otherwise, the necessary evaluation and
editing of your endeavor feels like a personal affront, not an important fine-tuning of
Above all - have fun. That's the most important aspect of the creative process. You
will almost certainly encounter moments that are hard, painful and frustrating.
However, if you have faith in your eventual success, you will be able to enjoy the
challenge of overcoming obstacles. And the more you do it successfully, the greater
your background of success to build upon for future work. Above all, consider
yourself involved in an exciting adventure to discover what is inside your mind, what
is out there in the world and what new aspect of being alive will open up for you.
This article first appeared in a 1987 issue of The Park Slope Shopper.