Why is it we often get creatively stuck, even when we have access to creative prompts or tools that are explicitly designed to get us back on our feet and thinking again?
Sometimes your imagination can just run head-first into new ideas with the help of a creative prompt or otherwise stimulating jolt (such as coffee or alcohol).
Other times you might find yourself stuck or struggling to get your imagination running. Even when you have access to thinking prompts, tools, friends or co-workers, etc. You remain feeling stuck.
Why is that?
There are a few feasible reasons, one being simply exhaustion. It’s important to re-energize your mind if you’re feeling stuck.
But another, more common, culprit is the inner critic.
The silent voice in your head that starts to criticize every thought or idea you have, saying: “Are we sure? Here’s why that might be a bad idea…”
Before you’ve even had a chance to vet an idea, there’s your inner critic telling you why you of all people can’t do it, or why that idea is certainly doomed, or what the risks (real or not) are of trying something.
To combat the inner critic, we must embrace moving fast, even into seemingly dead-ends or wild ideas.
Move fast with your ideas when it comes to creativity. Don’t give your critic time to evaluate anything, otherwise it will surely stop you (even when there’s no validity to the doubts, fears, or negative impressions). The inner critic runs on a higher, slower level of thinking than your idea-generating mind. Running with an idea, seeing what happens as you start to move, and only stepping back once you’ve made some progress and can therefore take a more objective view of the idea, is a great way to move even when you feel stuck.
The next idea you have, whatever it is, don’t stop to criticize it or yourself. Move on it. Write it out and answer any questions you have about it on paper. Propose it to a friend or group. Don’t think, just move.
Because, in the end, what matters ultimately for creative ideas is that we get them out of our head, that’s the only place we can effectively evaluate whether or not they’re worth developing further.