The blank canvas is your worst enemy
How to get out of a creative block
Hi beautiful soul, I got a beautiful new inspiration today. Hope you enjoy it!
As a creator you will face creative blocks. It’s completely normal, but how can you get out of it? Well there is just one simple solution. Read it in this story.
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Yet again nothing comes out. Really. Nothing. A blank canvas is your worst enemy. It daunts you and tears you apart. For the last two weeks, this blank canvas has been scaring me. It has bullied me and made me feel like shit. Yes, a blank canvas can do that to you. Especially this week. I am at the beginning of writing a book. I’ve written three chapters so far, yet the forth is killing me. It is that hurdle on the road you can’t get over. At the same time, your ego is laughing at you. It feels a bit like a hurdle runner that stops midway, right in front of a hurdle. Looking at it and not knowing what to do. Even when it already ran half the race. He already crossed three other hurdles. The crowd is confused and out of that confusion, it starts to laugh at him. That crowd, that’s the ego. That ego is necessary to win the race because it cheers you on when you feel great. Yet if you feel absolutely shit, it laughs at you. Boo’s you and makes you feel even less than you first felt. The runner is all of us trying to finish something. Trying to get something done. There are no exceptions to this because we will all face hurdles in our crafts. Whether you are a smith, an accountant, or a painter. None of these are excluded.
It does happen more often with creative jobs. The ones that work for themselves and need to come up with new ideas themselves. Why is it this way? Why do you come across more hurdles as you do it yourself? That isn’t that hard. Go back to that hurdle runner. If he were to run for his financing nine to five jobs the hurdles he takes will be the same every time. His work is the same almost every day. At least most of it. That doesn’t make him any less than the creatives. Far from actually. These people have come to understand the power of habit. At first, their hurdles feel rough. That’s the initial setup but as they come to know the height of every hurdle they will continue to be the same over and over again. Now you might start to hate the job and therefore the hurdles become harder again. That is just the way for everyone. Hurdles can be easy but if your mind starts to change and think of them as bad or negative they will become that way. That’s why at times the hurdles you before found easy to jump over are now making you crawl underneath them because you fail to jump over them.
Artists on the other hand mostly work when they are inspired or motivated. So their hurdles change with each moment. When they feel inspired or motivated their hurdles are small and they can easily step over them. The biggest bullshit of it all is that they even blame motivation and inspiration when they can’t create anything at all. If they are not motivated or inspired, well it is really easy for them to blame the hurdle for being too big. Yet it didn’t change in size. It is just the same as always. Only the running up to the jump has changed. That’s the difference between these two groups. The first runner has a continues speed. He jumps one after the other hurdle. The second runner is dependent on motivation and inspiration to jump the hurdle. That’s why if the motivation lacks his speed will decrease and eventually stumble over the hurdle instead of jumping over it clean and easy. I think blaming motivation and inspiration for that is pure bullshit. Yes, I’ve just said that and probably made a lot of people mad by it. Now I speak of experience, to be precise I’ve blamed motivation and inspiration when I was writing this very story. It is such an easy way to give yourself an excuse to not start creating.
Feeling shit tells you something
Doing something creative isn’t necessarily hard. It is part of us humans. We have been made creative, so we can come up with solutions for the problems we created. It’s a continuous cycle that keeps us busy. For an artist, one of those problems is that they do create out of motivation and inspiration. It is just the way creativity works. Creativity starts from a spark in the brain. Something outside us that triggers us. Whether this is something born from passion, emotion or a problem doesn’t matter. Everyone has their way of creativity. Mine is creativity coming from emotion and problems. I just love solving problems and dealing with emotions. For a friend of mine, this is more born from passion. Creating music because he loves it. The main reason is that creating starts with something inside ourselves that meats the outside world. From there on motivation and inspiration are created. Then it is easy to create. So for beginner artists who just do it for their hobby, it is easy. It feels like they have mastered creativity. That is because they do it whenever they feel motivated. For the more advanced artist, this starts to be a lot more difficult. His intentions have shifted from just creating whenever they feel like, too creating to make a living. Which means you kinda need to become like the nine to five guy working behind his desk. There must be consistency so you can make a consistent living doing what you love.
That doesn’t mean you should work every day from nine to five, or more. Most of us started doing this because they wanted to feel free in some sort of way. With that freedom comes making choices. These choices are a lot narrower now. You can not choose to work less and still buy a lot. Nor can you choose to buy a lot and at the same time have more free time. That only works for a few people who first started working a lot and made a name in their business and then got paid so much that they didn’t need to work as hard. So being a free creative put you in a position that forces you to make choices. It isn’t that free after all. It all comes down to how you make money so you can keep on living the life you love. That means consistently creating. Creating a painting every week or writing a new book every year. Those are choices you have to make. You can’t just postpone the book for years and expect people to generously donate you some money for postponing it. That would be a lovely life, and I would be a master at postponing my book then. If that would make me money.
This isn’t reality though, it is a bit more complicated. If you want to make money consistently that means being creative consistently which means being motivated consistently. But being motivated was something we couldn’t force right? It comes whenever it wants. When something on the inside meats something on the outside creating a spark in the brain. Well, there is nothing more bullshit than that. Being creative in that way is just the same as a nine to five job. You need to be consistent with creating. And that does mean consistently feeling shit. I am sorry to disappoint you with that. But feeling shit is part of being creative as well. Maybe even with being human. If you want to create, that does mean that there must be times where you don’t create. Not as in free time where you play video games, no rather times where you do the opposite of creating and you break down. Moments where that blank canvas is your worst enemy. This feels shit. It terrifies you, so you just don’t create when you aren’t inspired or motivated. You place it in a big bag and tie it. Which you place in a big metal box locked with heavy chain locks. Then you place that box in the cupboard and lock it. So you don’t have to be terrified of it getting out. In the end, it will Houdini its way out of that bag, box and cupboard so it can terrify you ones again. Trust me. You just can’t be motivated all the time, and that is something to be incredibly proud of.
Why you can be proud of not being motivated!?
You should be really. From that shitty place, you are in, comes the best of ideas. Really it helps you. This Friday as I sat down to write the initial story for today I felt absolutely shit. No concentration, no motivation, nor inspiration. So I opened my list of ideas and just choose one. That didn’t work out. It felt unnatural and the words felt cliche and overall bad. So I stopped and continued to write on my book. Yet again, that didn’t work out. It just didn’t feel right. So I started to edit some images. Again, yes you guessed it, that didn’t work out either. I felt stuck, and I hadn’t felt that in a long time. My mind felt full of thoughts like there was a thick liquid slowly swallowing it. That was it, a writer’s block and a creative block all at ones. Nothing seemed to work out. Yet I set myself on this goal to post every Sunday and it is finally working out again. So I had to write something. I forced myself through it and continued to write a story. Luckily you don’t have to read it because it is, horrible as fuck. So I decided to quit and let the demotivation take over. I gave in. No that is not the same as giving up, that is completely different. Giving in is going with the flow so you can get out of it. That is the same as running a bad race as a hurdle runner just so you can learn to run better next time. If I would have given up, I would be the hurdle runner who stopped and left the race court. A creative block is nothing more than you resisting to give in. As I was experiencing this creative block I started to google how to get rid of it.
As every young teenager does, googling all of their problems on YouTube. So I came across a lot of videos that told me how to get rid of it. Writing, journaling, even sitting in front of your screen for as long as you need to until you write one good sentence. That was one of the worst ways of doing it. That was just using brutal force to get to the result. Man, I was astonished by how many different ways of getting rid of that creative block were there. I realized that I had done a lot of these and none of them worked. So I tried something new. Something that felt counter-intuitive and that would only bring me a worse result.
Doing nothing. Yes, you are right, doing nothing. That doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. It just ain’t there. I always want to be doing something for a purpose. I don’t just play video games, no I play them because they bring me joy. I write because I feel good doing it, it brings me joy and fulfillment. Doing nothing feels like a complete waste of time. Especially, because I don’t know what it will bring. But this was a moment of pure bliss. Really! I just sat down on the hot, black, bouncy trampoline. Feeling the sun on my skin and watching the clouds move by. Forming new shapes every time I looked at them, some even morphing together. For just a few minutes I didn’t think of anything. Not even about my creative block. It felt like nothing was wrong. Like I would just get up after doing it and continue writing again. Of course, it wasn’t that perfect. The stress of not knowing anything to create was still within my body and I could feel it tens up my jaws and limbs. Yet I accepted it fully. Not seeing it as something bad, but rather something to be proud of. It made me feel human. Right at that moment, inspiration struck me again, and within like an hour I wrote this entire story. That’s how powerful motivation and inspiration is. You just need some time doing nothing.
What a simple solution isn’t it? Well, that is what I am all about. I don’t want to bore you with real time-consuming solutions or things that will take you half your day to get out of this rut. I want you to do something and feel results without really forcing them. I am all about that simple way of living. So I could highly recommend you just do freaking nothing. I know that is shit because it feels like you are losing time. But really how many options do you have? Look at a blank screen for a long time, thinking of why you can’t come up with anything, or doing nothing and enjoying it then let inspiration hit you in that boredom. Cause really that doing nothing eventually makes you feel bored quicker than expected. For some that might be two minutes, for another an hour. Still, as an artist that wants to make a living off his craft, you should know the power of doing nothing and making a habit out of it. Don’t blame the motivation for not being there. Blame yourself for not giving the motivation time to arise. So sit back a bit. Relax, do nothing, and well let the motivation and inspiration come to you as you are creating figures in the clouds.
How can you do this?
Find a spot where you can just sit or lay down. Like your room, outside in the grass, or like me on a trampoline. Try to find something to focus on. The clouds, a light, a candle, maybe just your wall. Try to keep your eyes fixed on it. Then just stay there doing nothing until you feel bored. You know you are bored when it starts to feel awkward. You want to move, grab your phone and do something. Resist that. Resist the temptation of doing anything and simply sit. Then, trust me after a few minutes your mind starts to wander. Allow it to do that. This ain’t a meditation. This is a way to get creative and feel inspired again. When your mind starts to wander you can start to look around, maybe even walk a bit. Just don’t grab your phone, talk to someone, or do something that takes you out of your mind. After some time, depending on your personality, you will come up with an idea. Bam that’s it, you got it! Great job! Now go and create right away. Don’t let that initial spark die out, grab it, and hold on to it. Because you felt like you were wasting your time you now have an insane drive to work. So you will probably finish your creative process quicker than you would normally, you are just straight fire. Feeling fired up and jamming away on your craft.
That sounds doable, right? It ain’t that hard, just try it. It is a really counterintuitive way but worth the try. Let me know if it worked for you!
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Today I lived is a three word quote that reminds me and you to live. To enjoy this life and look for the sunshine in your day! Cause “beauty is everywhere”