5 Ways to Unblock Your Creativity


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Creativity requires us to journey into the unknown but it’s not a place we find particularly comfortable. Our ‘thinking” brain resists the uncertainty in all kinds of ways. We go blank. We feel empty. These blocks take us out of the creative flow and often when we are on the brink of a breakthrough!

Blocks come in all shapes and “guises. ” A common response is to clutch or panic. The more we fight against them the tighter their hold.

  • What if we approach them with curiosity instead of rigidity?
  • What if we don’t take them on face value?
  • Then it becomes possible to create a doorway through the block.
  • The “I wonder why…” response instead of the “Oh, No!” is to leave crisis mode and enter into contemplation. We now have options.

    Sometimes we don’t realize we are tensing a shoulder or have an ache in the neck. Tune in.

  • Stand with arms loose at your sides.
    Slowly scan your body from head to toe.
  • Locate the sensation. Where blockage exists in the body flow can’t happen.
  • Take a few moments. Stretch. Breathe. And then…

    Whether the block is a sensation in your body or a strong emotional feeling, it helps to find an image.

  • For example, a burning sensation might suggest a fire, a volcano, a glass of orange juice!
  • In the painting process we paint it. The image or symbol is the “container” into which we put the ache or the pain.
  • With practice, just holding the image in your mind can have the same affect.

    3. ZOOM IN
    Why stop there? The more specific we can make the image the more playful it becomes and the looser its hold.

  • Take the image another step.
  • What are the details?
  • Where is it? What is it near?
  • If it could talk, what would it say?

    3. SLOW DOWN
    Whether we are painting, writing or moving through space, exaggerated slowness can:

  • Give us time to notice what we might otherwise race by.
  • Strengthen our connection and deepen the focus.
  • Create what in painting I call the “wobble” effect. The slight shakiness of the brush loosens control causing the it to squiggle a more expressive line.
  • Ask “What could it be?”

    4. GO FASTER
    This, too, is about loss of control but now we are trying to go faster than our brain can analyze what we are doing.

  • The left brain wants to label and categorize.
  • Worst of all it wants to censor out what it doesn’t like.
  • Rushing causes surprises to happen.
  • If we speed things along, the paint brush slips into a new shape, an idea pops up.

    5. SAY A MANTRA.
    In moments of doubt we can “talk” ourselves through by repeating a phrase of support.

  • Like affirmations, speaking positively out loud can interrupt old inner dialogues.
  • Make it playful.
  • A student of mine combines word with motion. He takes a deep breath, shrugs his shoulders and chants “Whatever!” enabling him to plunge back in.

    In Endless Variety

    The tip that works one moment may not another. What does work is to keep the mind guessing so it doesn’t know what to expect. Find playful ways to break through automatic responses. This helps us to stay the course into that unknown place, rich with possibility.

    Barbara Barry is the creator of Art for Self-Discovery, a series of experiential workshops and classes which focus on the creative process and personal growth. http://www.artforselfdiscovery.com

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