Creative work can take a long time, observes Jane Porter, writing for Fast Company. Results can be inconsistent, the gestation period can feel unproductive and it’s prone to blockages.
In fact, the challenging nature of creativity and the stagnation involved can tempt you into abandoning projects prematurely.
The author suggests five areas for attention when it comes to creative blockages:
1) Your inner critic. This is the voice inside you that casts a negative view of every idea you have when you sit down to work. Hal and Sidra Stone, authors of the book Embracing Your Inner Critic, tell Porter: “Most of us are not even aware that it is a voice… because its constant judgments have been with us since early childhood and its running critical commentary feels like a natural part of ourselves.”
There are ways to combat the inner critic’s disruption, however. Porter suggests giving yourself permission to write or sketch for around 30 minutes without pause so all your ideas are drawn up without having to think about them. Or you can write down the negative thoughts too without allowing them to stop what you’re working on.
2) Your work habits. Porter advises: “Identify the work habits you’re forming that might be sabotaging you creatively. Build some structure and routine into your day.”
3) Fear of what you might discover. Creative work means really putting your heart and soul into your efforts, and subconsciously you might be scared or self-conscious about letting go and discovering what the result will be.
However, this fear is part of the creative process and you should embrace it. If it’s too daunting initially, set aside short periods of time for creative work and build up gradually.
4) Everything else competing for your attention. All kinds of things will be going on in your life that will make sitting down to focus on creative work seem silly, selfish or impossible, warns Porter.
However, she insists that setting time aside in a firm schedule will allow you to treat your creative periods as important as any other duties you have.
5) Not knowing where to begin. You might feel overwhelmed if you have a big project, but breaking it down into manageable pieces might be the answer. Sometimes the best way to make progress is to start small.