It happens to the best of us. A blank piece of paper and nothing is coming to mind. The paper stares back at you, laughing, reminding you that you are not creative at all. Your mind is in the ultimate state of zen…. empty filled with nothingness. If this were a meditation class you would be a pro. The problem is when you try to meditate all you can think is “Why the hell can’t I come up a damn thing to create.”
First the bad news. I’ve been to workshops, worked with some amazing artists, took classes with some of the best song writers in the world. I’ve worked with designers that earned themselves a Murphys Award, blah, blah. They all experience it and they all struggle with it just like you and I.
The good news! They all had their own ways of working around it. Sometimes it was a simple as a deadline. Sometimes it was games like, pick an inanimate object and write about it or draw it. Pick a fictitious business and design a logo. Pick a real business and design a new log. One thing that works for me is to take out the money. Design something for someone for free. They didn’t ask for it, they don’t need it. You have total creative freedom to do whatever it is you desire. You’d be amazed at how well that works. And the reason I think that all of these techniques can work is because what we are actually doing is erasing the critic in our mind. That asshole who tells you “they’re not going to like it.” The same predator that is chirping in the back of your head that you aren’t good enough. That you are going to fail, that they are going to hate it. All of these exercises, yes exercises help you work out that part of your brain to get rid of the critic.
First of all, you are good enough. I know it sounds dumb. Like Stuart Smalley standing in the mirror talking to himself. But you are good enough. Why are you pursuing this in the first place. It’s not for the money. There’s no money in it any more. Everyone can do it… right? Wrong. That’s the predator talking to you. Fuck that voice. It’s a worthless one. You are pursuing this because you find joy in doing it. It doesn’t always feel that way, but in general, more than not, you find joy in creating. Secondly, I can almost guarantee, at some point someone told you that you are good at it. And maybe they suggested doing it as a pro. Now your a pro.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you are at the top of your game because it comes easy to you, or someone said your art is less valuable. But really, you’ve been doing this for a while now. And you practice it all the time. So, fuck ya, you’re good at it. And you are just going to get better. I don’t care what it is. When you first started tying your shoes, you sucked at it. You consciously made bunny ears. Crossed them over, then tied them up. Using all your finger dexterity and concentration to make the bows just right. Now? You tie your shoes without thinking. You’ve been doing it forever. And more likely than not, you don’t even know how long you’ve been doing it. Same thing as every other skill in the world. Chi Chi Rodriguez once said “The only difference between me and your average golfer is that I hit a thousand balls a day.” Keep hitting a thousand balls a day every day. No matter what it is and the critic will die and so will the writers block.
you don’t need to hear this but, Good luck