When Your Brain Goes on Strike

photo credit: neilslorance via photopin.com

There are two types of creative people.  Some are in a state of flow.  For them ideas and inspiration come easily.   Creations seem to will themselves into being with little or no effort from the creator.

For other creative people the road is much rockier.  No matter how hard they work, they can’t seem to produce much of anything.  They strain and toil and at the end of the day (which seemed to stretch on for weeks) they have little or nothing to show for it.

Actually, I lied.

There is only one kind of creative person and she experiences both creative conditions.

When you are in the flow state all is right with the world.  Also, you probably aren’t online looking for articles about how to restart your creativity, so let’s talk about what to do when all of your ideas suck and don’t know what to do about it.

Don’t Panic

You will write again.  You have not forgotten how paint interacts with brushes and canvas.  You are every bit as brilliant, gorgeous and talented as you were last week.  Everyone experiences these low spots, but the only thing giving way to panic and fear accomplishes is to extend your time in the hole.  When you start to feel overtaken by worry, stop what you are doing and just breathe until you can proceed with a clear head.

Don’t Push

I’m not suggesting you give up without an effort.  If you are feeling stuck, by all means try to unblock yourself.  Do some free writing.  Enjoy a cup of coffee away from your desk.  Take a walk around the block. Play with the cat.  Go through the motions of your craft even if the work produced goes straight in the garbage.

If after running through your usual set of gentle noodges, (and trying a new one or two) you still aren’t feeling it, don’t sit at your desk staring at a blank screen forcing yourself to work.  Creativity does not respond to threats.

Do Procrastinate

If the creative ideas aren’t coming they aren’t coming.  You might as well make good use of the time.

Do the laundry. Scrub a toilet. Clean out your e-mail. Do your filing. Go to the zoo.  Window shop in the mall. Make chicken noodle soup from scratch. Knit yourself a new pair of socks.  Take a nap.

Try to avoid tasks that feel like regular work to your body and brain but don’t actually accomplish much.  Playing Angry Birds, Words with Friends, or Farmville fit in this category.  As does spending hour after hour on Facebook, or even reading articles and blogs on-line.

Don’t skimp on your procrastination time.  When you get to this point, it’s time to spend at least an hour not working on your project.  After your enforced procrastination time go back to the creative task at hand.  If after 20 minutes you are still spinning your wheels, you aren’t done procrastinating.  Pick a new task–this time go for something more fun than the first one and try again.

You’ll be flowing again in no time.

Your Turn

What do you do when your creative brain goes on strike?

2 thoughts on “When Your Brain Goes on Strike

  1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your process. I’d like to get better at continuing to write when I’m not happy with the outcome. I know a lot of people get back in the groove that way–my inner censor seems to have the power to create typing paralysis or something. . .just. . .can’t . . .keep. . .going.

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