Cracking Creative Constipation

So, you’ve reached the point that you literally can’t get anything else out. Try as you might to transfer all the ideas in your brain to that blank canvas, nothing comes. It gets so bad that you begin to wonder if there are even any ideas left. You start to believe you never had any in the first place. The notion that you ever had any talent at all becomes a mirage, fading further and further away until it dissolves into the vast and unwelcoming desert of self-doubt.

This is creative constipation.

I use this term because despite all your self-deprecating thoughts, you do have ideas. Solid ones. Good ones. Even great ones, buried deep down in your brain somewhere. Ya gotta drink some metaphorical prune juice and get that shit out. Too visual? #sorrynotsorry

There are a million ways to get the juices flowin’, but in my experience, they all boil down to one critical tactic: DO SOMETHING ELSE. What to do? I literally don’t care. Like, I actually couldn’t even begin to tell you how much I don’t care what you do as long as it’s not what you are already doing. Because what you are currently doing is clearly not working and staring at that blank space more isn’t going to suddenly unlock the magic. Round peg square hole and all that. You don’t just keep slamming the pieces together until they fit. They won’t fit. Ever. I promise. So… all: “Do something else!” Exactly.

I know a lot of creatives do not have the luxury of spare time so, “doing something else” may seem like a foreign concept. Unfortunately that mind-set can often be the main cause of creative constipation (I should trademark that…) and the pressures we put on ourselves can diminish our creative energy supplies more than anything. The following is a list of 10 things to do that are different from what you are doing that take less than 20 minutes:

  1. Take a shower. For those of you that know me, this may be a funny one. I hate taking showers. Like so much. But truly, get in there! Put on some music. Massage your… scalp. Pretend you’re at a spa in the steam room or something. Plus the cold air when you get out will awaken your senses.
  2. Go for a walk. Music or no music, it really doesn’t matter, just get outside. And please, none of this “It’s too cold/hot/dark/sunny/windy/rainy/tornado-y.” Just get the ef out there. Pay attention to your surroundings and let your mind wander.
  3. Dance. Not a good dancer? To quote a genius, “I literally don’t care.” Put on your favorite song and just move, dammit!
  4. Paint. I’m partial to abstract finger painting, but ya know, do yo thang. Unless what you were originally trying to do was paint… then, um… don’t?
  5. Write. Free verse stream of consciousness, please!
  6. Talk to someone who has literally no idea what you are working on. It takes your mind off what you are working on and makes you focus on something or someone else. If you chose to talk to them about what you are doing, ask for their opinion or feedback, and Listen. To. Them. Whatever you do, don’t just complain about the work you are trying to do. That will only create more pressure on you and then you’ll be right back where you started.
  7. Get a change of scenery. Move your workspace. If you are in a place where there are a lot of distractions, go to a library or home. If you are at home or a library, move to a coffee shop or a bar. After all, “variety is the spice of life.” – Snoop Dogg.
  8. Take a coffee nap. Drink a cup of coffee. Take a 20 minute nap. Wake up. Shake off. Jump back in.
  9. Stretch. Turn your focus inward and listen to your body instead of your brain. Are you sore? Tight? Stiff? Loosen your body to loosen your mind. 
  10. Read. Article, poetry, novel… my blog. You know, intelligent contributions to society.

Feel free to post comments about what helps you unlock that creativity game. This is just one girl’s opinion. Also, eat something. 

Peace, y’all.

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