Hello, everyone. Welcome to the first Advice column of the new week! We have at least two of these features planned for you, and I swear I’m being honest when I say they’re some of the best we’ve had to date. If you have a suggestion for a future advice column, or if you have a question you’d like us to address, please email email@example.com and share your thoughts.
It feels almost ironic to admit, but I put off writing this blog post as long as I possibly could. The idea came to me in September, and shortly after weighing whether or not I felt I could write at length on the topic I added it to the shortlist of topics to cover in the weeks ahead. Days went by, the list grew shorter, and instead of tackling the task I knew I had to accomplish I went out of my way to find friends with suggestions for additional columns to buy time. It seems foolish in hindsight, but at the time running from my need to create seemed far easier than actually sitting down to make something appear out of nothing more than the thoughts in my mind even though I knew it was something that needed to be done. This was my latest encounter with writer’s block, and today we’re going to work on overcoming this bit of mental resistance when it appears in your life.
Everyone who creates encounters writer’s block in their own unique way. Musicians find they cannot craft original melodies, painters have no visions to depict on canvas, and writers have no thoughts they feel are worth putting to paper. We’ve all been there and we’ll all be there again many, many times in the years ahead. There is no cure or escape, but with focus and dedication the walls built in your mind to stall the creative process can be knocked down in time. The following tips will help you get started:
(For the sake of simplicity we’ll use writing as an example in each of these tips, but know that the same applies to music or anything else you’re trying to create.)
1. No matter what, write each and every day. No exceptions.
The only thing worse than feeling like you have nothing to say is being forced to create something in spite of your lack of inspiration, I know, but if you ever want to overcome creative blocks you need to face the challenge presented by a blank page every single day. It’s not about creating something brilliant on day one, but rather the simple act of committing to your art. Sitting down to write even though you do not feel compelled to do so trains your brain the way running daily helps strengthen your lungs. Your mind is a muscle, after all, and with a consistent exercise regime it can begin to perform better in time. You might not create anything worth saving the first day or even first week, but by making writing a part of your daily routine you will begin to chip away at the resistance that’s holding your creativity at bay.
2. Set a schedule for when you will write and stick with it.
Building off the point above, consistency is key when it comes to strengthening your mind against mental blocks. By setting a specific time to begin working on your craft your telling yourself and the world that what you’re doing matters. It’s not a hobby or interest that can wait for whenever a moment allows, but a passion you want to be a profession and as such it deserves time in your schedule where it is allowed to be at the very center of your attention. If your art is something you can put on hold there is no reason others won’t feel the same.
3. Avoid passive justification at any cost.
The biggest obstacle between where you are now and where you want to be creatively is everything else that interests you. I know that seems silly, but those attempting to follow tips one and two above will likely find this to be the hardest of all. Passive justification is that little voice in our head that tells us slacking off, be it for a moment or longer, is okay. It’s the same voice that used to tell you going out with friends was better than doing homework, only now it’s attempting to steer you away from personal goals without you even realizing what is going on. The things we choose to do through passive justification are rarely terrible, and as a result it can take a long time before people realize just what damage has been done. Drop the risk altogether and focus on consistency. Once you work, then you can play. It’s been that way since you were young and it (sometimes literally) pays to do the same today.
If you would like more information on overcoming mental blocks, pick up The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield.