021: Overcoming Creative Block

Friday, October 18, 2013 – 54 minutes

Download: MP3 (51.9 MB)

overcoming-creative-block

Why do we get stuck? How do we get past a creative block? There are a number of reasons we might feel as if we are at an impasse, but they’re mostly mental. There are a few ways to combat these problems, with prevention being the choice weapon.

Show Notes
  • 02:59 Understanding the problems with creative block:
  • 03:05 Problem 1. We have nothing to say.
  • 03:12 Starting with nothing to say does not work.
  • 03:20 You have to design content.
  • 04:09 Sitting down in front of a blank page is not the time to be thinking about what you want to make.
  • 04:17 Capture ideas at all times no matter where you are. When you get an idea, write it down immediately for future reference.
  • 09:53 Problem 2. We put too much pressure on ourselves to produce something great.
  • 10:25 You have to free yourself of the pressure in order to make something great. Great things will come with time and refinement—they don’t start out by pressuring yourself to make something great.
  • 10:55 Sometimes, starting out by coming up with the worst solution can help you overcome inertia. The idea is to at least get started.
  • 13:40 It’s a silly exercise, but it’s otherwise very hard to start out by trying to come up with the best possible solution. This enables you to get past the initial hurdle of nothingness.
  • 14:26 Some of my greatest concepts are drawn on junk mail. Or within a little empty space on a page full of other sketches. It’s that pressure of the vastly empty page that stifles our creativity. We have to create a space of safety for our minds to relax enough to do what they do best.
  • 19:18 Problem 3. We think we’re just short on inspiration.
  • 19:24 Watch out for this one because it’s a trap.
  • 19:40 What’s more immediately gratifying when you’re feeling stuck than going at looking at what other people have made? It’s a short term feel-good emotion. It’s a shot of dopamine, and you might try to convince yourself that you’re really doing good for your project, but really you’re just sinking a bunch of time.
  • 20:57 Inspiration is something we should always be acquiring. Don’t go looking for inspiration when you’re stuck.
  • 21:15 When we store up a mental bank for future reference, it is far more effective than trying to get a quick dose of inspiration in a bind. Because the mental bank of inspiration that you have stored has been stewing for weeks, months, and years. It’s a huge mixture that’s organically combined. When you pull from this resource, you get this fresh blend that is a summation of all your past inspirations. This result is much more likely to come out original and in your voice and style.
  • 21:56 Short term inspiration leads to direct copying. That’s not how you’re going to find the spark you need.
  • 28:45 Problem 4. We’re out of practice.
  • 28:50 Creativity isn’t a magic faucet we can turn on whenever we feel like it. It’s a practice. You show up, and you do the work.
  • 29:04 When you get in the habit of doing something, it’s just routine. It’s how you’re able to produce a ton of work, or write a lot of books. You do it because it’s what you do.
  • 29:38 Build a routine that you consistently follow. It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck. You biggest hurdle is overcoming that inertia. You have to find ways to start, no matter what that is. When you have a routine, the starting becomes much easier.
  • 34:11 Problem 5. We’re overwhelmed with too many things.
  • 34:45 If you’re overloading yourself, you’re just going to be stressed. This isn’t going to result in you being able to perform your best, You’re simply going to have to cut some things out. Start saying no to more things.
  • 35:44 “What is stress? What stresses you out?”
Links
  • On Copying (article with video of Erik Spiekermann talking on inspiration and avoiding imitation)
  • sleepyti.me (bedtime calculator)


By Sean McCabe

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