by Lauren Fallen, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
As we continue to explore the phenomenon of the ‘creative block’ and ways of pushing through this period of seeming stagnation and ‘stuckness’, we also delve into curiosities about what improves creativity. To feel stuck is to feel helpless and hopeless in a situation that seems unmanageable, unchangeable or emotionally triggering. Often our minds become the first space in which we can begin to shift this dilemma of feeling and believing we are ‘stuck’ and stimulate movement internally and externally to improve creativity and flow.
In our previous blog post, we discussed the experience of ‘being stuck’ as an essential starting point for examining and working with our creative blocks. We must first consider the emotions that stem from acknowledging that we are stuck- stuck in place, stuck in following through, stuck in completing or finishing, stuck in getting started, stuck in connecting, etc. Building a mindful visualization of our ‘stuckness’ also provides us with a ground to work from, the materials to build from or deconstruct. We can think of these visual aids and thoughts as the collectie ingredients to our recipe for creativity and growth. These jumping off points slowly build a chain reaction for us internally, where we allow this process of moving from one image to another and one thought to another with a concept guiding us.
We are also tasked with considering what being ‘unstuck’ would feel like, look like and generate from. In this space of imagination and potentiality, we can start to create realistic intentions and goals. In order to begin fostering these hopeful images and solutions, it is important for us to relax. When we are relaxed, we experience a shift in mood and can access channels of gratitude, hope and joy. When relaxed, we become connected to our passions, strengths, and love of life. There is a faith that is needed to trust this process, in which you must believe that by relaxing you are managing the ‘stuckness’ and nurturing your own creative energy.
Another aspect of improving and nurturing your own creativity and flow, is that of time. When we think of creativity and time, we might think about deadlines, time spent not creating, pressure to create, periods that seem to move quickly, and even not having enough of it. It is important as we begin to explore our stuckness that we make a commitment of time to our creative space. Whether that be in an art therapy session each week or time spent at home surrounded by art materials. It is important that you create a space that is meant for your own artistic expression- whether that be for writing, creating music, dancing, painting, sculpting or drawing. It might look like scheduling time in your planner or calendar or verbally telling yourself and your family that you are going to consciously and intentionally engage in a creative process at a certain point in time. For some of us, we may choose to set a limit, 1 hour, 2 hours, but really it is most important that you at least set a starting time and keep it as consistent as possible. For instance, Tuesdays at 8:00pm. Not only is the commitment important, but the discipline in purposefully engaging in creative work consistently.
Consider engaging in creative warm up activities that do not necessarily serve a purpose to add to your project idea or contribute to your goal for what you want to work on for the entire session, but rather act as exercises for your mind and body to relax and connect to the present moment. Staring at a blank paper or canvas or unopened materials can be overwhelming and stimulate thoughts of perfectionism and criticism in what you can’t or won’t be able to accomplish in that moment. Consider placing constraints on what you work with or how you work with the materials or the theme of your activity, so as to guide your process. For instance, challenge yourself to work with 2 colors, one type of paint brush, your non-dominant hand or a particular size of paper. Let your warm-up be just that or allow it to inspire you. Perhaps you create a second image in response to the first one, you use a particular line pattern to start the next image or you add to the image that you already have in an intentional way.
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