Increase Creativity With Simple Techniques: Creatively Stuck? Use the BoxBreaker!

Dan Goodwin

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Being “Creatively Stuck" is a common issue for many of my Creativity Coaching clients, that feeling that you’ve tried everything possible to move yourself forward and make progress but still you remain in the same place.

The finer details of each person’s situation are different, but the overall issue, and the feelings of frustration and helplessness, are shared by all, and something each of us have experienced to some extent in our creative lives.

Often the cause of being “stuck" is remedied by a simple and subtle change in perspective, just looking at the situation in a slightly different way, with new eyes and a fresh perspective.

This is easy to say on the outside looking in, but when we’re in the midst of being stuck it seems like we’ve tried every option possible and there ARE no fresh perspectives.

So next time you feel stuck in your creative life, try using this simple technique:

The BoxBreaker Technique

Choose an issue you’re stuck on, then imagine you have a box in which you put all your assumptions and preconceptions about that issue.

Include every detail, from every aspect, from the more general such as “I don’t have the resources to do this" to “There is no other way", to more specific assumptions and perceptions about your issue, like “A novel has to be at least 100000 words, be broken into equal chapters, have dialogue and one lead character".

Once you’ve written these all out and gathered them into your box, it’s time to be a BoxBreaker! The overall aim here is to smash every assumption and preconception you have that limits your thinking and your creative progress in this area.

A great way to start doing this is just to state the opposite(s) for each assumption or preconception you have and then consider how these can be true.

For example, to use the assumption about the novel above, instead of “A novel has to be at least 100000 words, be broken into chapters and have a lead character" you might write as a starting point: “A novel must be less than 100000 words, have no chapters, no dialogue and no lead character. "

This is the most literal opposite of the original statement, but then think about more radical variations.

For example: “A novel must be less than 5000 words, have unequal chapters, 12 lead characters, only 3 of which engage in dialogue. "

Or: “A novel should have 13 chapters, be written entirely as dialogue, be at least 100 words and feature no characters. "

Use your creativity to be inventive and write as many different opposite variations of each of assumption as you can. Be as wild and extreme and even as ridiculous as you can, and see how your creative mind responds.

One of the most powerful features of the human mind is when it sees a statement written down as true, it instantly looks for way that this could be true, even if at first it seems false, unlikely or even impossible.

So take each new statement you have and write some ideas around how you would approach the issue if it were true. The more you do this, the more easily it’ll flow.

Finally you’ll have a huge list of different ways of approaching your original issue you were stuck on. Pick one or two that really appeal to you, and use them as a starting point to progress.

© Copyright 2006 Dan Goodwin

Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin publishes “Create Create!", a FREE twice monthly ezine for people who want simple and powerful articles, tips and exercises to help them unleash their creative talents. To Sign up today and get your FREE “Explode Your Creativity!" Action Workbook, visit


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