Writers Block, Creative Back log. How to Get Your Groove Back. Creative Outpourings that Break Down Mental Blockades
It's impossible to concentrate, mind wandering, just can’t seem to produce anything of value. The deadline is approaching on that homework assignment, project, ministry duty, manuscript or song sheet, but it's no use, you can’t put paper to pen or key stroke to screen.
Is it procrastination or a symptom of something more involved? Although it just might be the song of the slacker for some; others have a more complex condition. If your livelihood or educational progress rides on this one thing, this is no simple matter. The hearts cry of many writers, preachers, teachers, composers, bloggers-for-bucks, as well as the doctorate student with a dissertation hanging in the balance is…”please God, give me something, anything, just ‘one’ thing to say!”
Some call it ‘writers block’, others a ‘creative block’, and older adults just might attribute this to a series of senior ’like’ moments. For the Mental Health Professional this can be a less severe case of cognitive-behavioral problems. The later definition can seem frightening at first glance; as if the individual is experiencing an actual mental health ‘problem’. The truth is in some cases this may be true.
…Before you become anxious about the idea of ‘mental problems', notice I mentioned problem not a disease, and not disorder. A mental snag to overcome. We’ll call this a cognitive and behavioral hurdle to leap across. Cognitive due to the involvement of thoughts, reasoning, and judgment; and Behavioral because it involves acting on your will. Together it's involves thinking and doing, deciding and acting, or from the words of Larry the Cable Guy; an inability to “Git-R-Done”.
So how does one pump up the volume just like that? Produce an abundance of words, actions, creative thoughts, and plans when we can’t seem to settle on even one to get the process started?
Turn on the....
I. Create and Decorate: place items at hand that are pleasant and useful for your creative time. Colored pads of paper, sharpened colored pencils, glaringly bright highlighters, different flavored gum or mints, a plant or two. A hoge-poge of items that are comforting, inspiring, creative, and fun. WARNING: Do not over decorate! This can become clutter and detract from the creative space.
II. Create and Communicate imperfect ideas:This step alone may open the outpouring. In many instances trying to find the perfect thing to say is unhelpful. Instead write ridiculous and unprofessional ideas with poor grammar, mizspelled words and all. Then talk about them. You can either discuss this alone; yes, talk to yourself in the privacy of your own home. There are online groups for discussing ideas with peers, however describing your thoughts out loud can be enough. Also, don’t be concerned about too many strange ideas that fill your page. This is a good problem. It can be easier to erase, delete, combine, and edit through them rather than attempting to force ONE, just one, idea that is free from all imperfections.
III. Create incentives: Give yourself a ‘good job’ reward. This step can seem beneath a professional person. We mistakenly believe we're too intellectual to rely on ‘happy stuff’, but guess what, even the most intellectual, wise, and enlightened Egghead is still just a mere human like the rest of us. People thrive in an atmosphere that is positive, uplifting, and inspiring. Creating rewards for positive achievements can have a ripple effect as you move towards your goal.
IV. Create Moments of Stimulation and Observation: Many of our best and brightest ideas are generated from the seemingly mundane. Search for colors in the environment you once considered bland and normal. seek hidden themes in movies you watch or music you hear. Interact with neighbors in your apartment building or neighborhood, paying attention to their joys, concerns, and even the plight of their circumstances. Please notice I mention interaction ‘with’ not observation 'of'. Meaningful, purposeful interaction is more inspiring than uninvolved ‘people watching’.
V. Create an Agenda: Avoid calling this a schedule, outline, or any other concept that will associate this with dry, hard, effort-filled work. Although WORK is NOT a dirty word, until we jump this hurdle we’ll limit ‘work-like’ situations and promote creativity. Write an agenda of what you shall see during your creative time.
- Include actions such as writing down numbers one-to-ten, then filling it in with a few of those imperfect ideas noted above.
- Add break times to your agenda where you walk outside to get the mail, stretch/deep breath, jump up and down (literally), eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich, beat-box, call or text someone a positive thought, scripture, or quote. Do something creative and out of the ordinary for you.
- Add ‘trash’ times to your agenda. These are regular opportunities to throw away ONE item from your list (a thought, agenda item, activity…) that just isn't working for you, then replace it with another.
THE IMPORTANT ISSUE:
Make thought and deed (cognitive and behavioral) goals positive and achievable. Be expectant! See your surroundings and circumstances in a different light, one filled with possibility and fertile for planting and growing. Your creative juices are bubbling over and just ready to out-pour.
Rosenberg, H. and Lah, M.I., (1982). A Comprehensive Behavioral-cognitive Treatment of Writer's Block. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 10, pp 356-363.
Boice, R., (1985). Cognitive Components of Blocking. Written Communication, v2 n1 p91-104 Jan 1985
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