One question to get you through creative slumps

Two situations.

The first is when you’re not starting the work you should be doing. Maybe it’s as simple as writing a report, maybe it’s a bit more complex; like writing a trilogy of novels. Whatever it is, you’re procrastinating on starting.

The second situation is that you’ve started the work, you’re making a bit of progress, but then you feel stuck. You stop writing, or painting, or constructing, or moving. It feels like there’s an invisible force preventing you from progressing.

There’s a creative solution to exploring both situations and getting things moving again, I’ve learned.

It simply starts by asking: “How does this make me feel?”

I know, feelings can be silly things. But there’s a lot of power behind asking ourselves this question whenever we feel stuck or as though we can’t start. Now, whenever I’m stuck on a project, I stop myself and ask how I’m feeling about the work.

Afraid? Fear is a good sign in the skin of a wolf. It makes moving forward seem difficult and often impossible. But fear is a reminder that what we’re doing is new, it’s something we haven’t done before. If we’re to grow creatively (or personally, or professionally) then fear is a signpost that we’re on a good path. Maybe we’ll fail, maybe the project will be shit, but we’ll learn something new. Fear is good. Let it fuel you instead of stop you in your tracks.

Excited? Excitement can lead to procrastination as well, though often as a placebo for fear. We’re excited at the prospects, of what this work could lead to. With that excitement comes worry and fear. With so much on the line (a new job, more exposure, more acclaim) we stop in our tracks. What if we fall short? What if we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment? Like fear, let the excitement fuel you rather than hinder you.

Uncertain? Maybe we aren’t exactly sure what to do next. We feel uncertain of what the right thing to do is. If you feel uncertain than the best possible thing to do next is anything. Make a mark. If it’s the wrong move, at least you’ll have better indication for what the right could be. It’s better to be uncertain and trying things than it is to be uncertain and sitting idly, hoping that something or someone will force you to make a move. Remind yourself of what it is you’re ultimately trying to do, then make an effort to move in that direction. Right or wrong, the only way to get to the destination is to move.

Often we end up feeling stuck or unmotivated because of some – often illogical – sense of being.

To break the block, to get back to creating, step back from the work for a moment and ask yourself how you feel about it. Explore from there, then get back to creating.