Forcing Creativity. Have you ever had writer’s block? Well, visual artists get it too. Most artists have these periods of time when we just can’t get into creating. The natural inclination is to throw up the hands and accept the cop out, “ I’m blocked.” While it’s healthy to take an occasional break, “blocks”, if left untreated, can build upon themselves and lead many artists to totally abandon artistic pursuits for dangerously long periods of time. They also frequently happen when we are approaching peak/ breakthrough stages in our artistic development.
How does one treat such nagging blockages? Here are some simple ideas to keep in mind:
Do not forget “why” you create (many of us don’t know the answer to begin with). To me I have made creating a moral obligation, something that must be done. The creative ritual is part of my religious practice and the way that I connect with and praise the Universe. The ritual is akin to meditation. The connection is not something that can be intellectualized, it must be experienced. It’s all about being in the groove.
Step back and look at the whole process, and enjoy the whole process. The whole process includes our whole life cycle in relation to our creative process. All that we do is a part of the creative process. The down cycles are often just as important for they are part of the whole song of life which is reflected through our art. In surfing there is always a downtime between sets of waves. This time is always savored as a time to just float on the ocean and feel the energy of the whole earth.
Force it. Force yourself into the studio. Just do it without thinking, and without knowing it, the momentum takes over. There are many things in our lives that we have to force ourselves to do. How many times have I awoken forcibly by the alarm clock, and jump started my central nervous system with caffeine, to get out of the house and to the office on time, when all I really wanted to do was sleep? Does anyone really like to exercise? Are any of these other things that we force ourselves to do as important as our art? When the enthusiasm drops we just need to think about the importance of what we are doing and the energy and inspiration always follows.
Finally, don’t wait for inspiration. “Inspiration” is derive from the word “in spirit,” meaning a connection with the divine. To me the connection happens as part of the creative ritual, and flows through our whole living experience. The whole point is that this is triggered by the ritual, and all the more reason to engage in the ritual when we feel “uninspired.”
The daily grind can take it out of you, and creativity is often nothing you can turn on light a light switch. If you regularly schedule a time when you work, if you make a date with your muse and schedule that time, then you’ll find that you come to depend on it. You’ll come to need it. And those nasty blocks will fade away into memory.
Michael Golub is an attorney in private practice. He practices law to support his art habit, and when he’s in his studio, it’s just like when he’s in court, or in conference with a client. To see more of his work, visit the Blue Earth Society, an artists association he co-founded in 1992.