LIGHTS GOLDEN HOUR an original oil on canvas painting by June Pauline Zent
We are waiting patiently for our muse, not in the creative mood, or praying for inspiration to drop in unannounced. In addition there are more pressing issues to resolve like chores that have been procrastinated before we allow ourselves to indulge in a luxury that is not a requirement. Conjure all of the excuses that you can imagine. Face it, you are blocked and guess what? You did it yourself! Another deturment is the recognition that creative effort is the most difficult work that anyone can undertake. You know that because the last project was a struggle from the beginning to the last word, brushstrokes, or whatever! And what about that old bug a boo sitting on your shoulder whispering, “Are you sure that this isn’t a total disaster? ” Or, ” What if you finish and it is not significant to anyone including YOU ? Horrors! It takes very real tenacity to struggle on past that natural inclination to abandon this work that is overwhelmingly difficult.
You’ve been there, done this with success so perhaps your ego lets you plow past your doubts but you’re still sitting there waiting for inspiration as if it were a gift and not an elective choice. Here are some steps to help you move past your roadblocks.
1. Select a special place to create your masterpiece. It can be any room in your home or outside away from it. Just not sitting at your computer ONLINE which is loaded with opportunities to contribute to the creativity of others, not yours. Your special place should be off-limits to anyone else. Everything placed there should be your exclusive domain. Hands off to all inquisitive explorers or compulsive organizers. If your place is messy ? So what, you know where everything is! If it is neat to an extreme you know even better where to put your hands on what you require. My daughter had a large poster tacked to the inside of her room door with a cute picture of a pig. The caption said, ” Clean Rooms Suck ! ” I respected that opinion. Another daughter’s room was very nearly perfectly organized right down to the bed being made every morning. She also had my respect. They are both grown now and both very creative people. Your chosen space doesn’t even have to be a room of your own; it can be a screened off portion, or out in the garage, or any other place where you can claim exclusive occupation.
2. Think about the time that you regularly invest before you arrive in that zone where you lose your worries and begin making progress. Add a minimum of one hour beyond that point. When my kids were young my feet hit the floor at 4:00 AM. Their awake time was 6:00. That gave me two precious hours in my garage studio with the door closed whaling away at a canvas or drawing furiously on a linen board. some times I just sat in blessed quiet thinking about what I wanted to say, or planning the project, and gathering reference material. Your creative block of time can be any part of a day or night when you will not be distracted by phone calls, emails, crying babies, or needy spouses. It can be once a month, or a week , or every day, but establish that pattern. Also keep in mind that sleep is a healer for your mind and body. It also recharges your creative imagination. So if your time block is in the morning go to bed early or vice versa. Remember that nothing about creative effort is easy including keeping yourself in condition to exercise it.
3. Write down a sequential list of steps that you must accomplish before you begin to work and perform them every time you reach your time block. For example: Before I paint I set up an easel and place a fresh canvas or one in progress where I always paint. Next I haul out tubes of paint, brushes pallet,mediums, lighting,and all of the reference material selected. The final step for me is to turn the music on. I have always worked with music blaring and often if a vocal I will sing along. It never fails: I will set to work as soon as the music is turned on and sometimes catch my hand moving to the beat on the canvas. It’s like gathering the ingredients, preparing the meal, setting the table, placing food on your plate, and picking up the fork which is like music the trigger. You are darn sure going to eat now!
The steps that you select must be followed every time you reach your time slot. We are all creatures of pattern. That’s what the cerebellum evolved to accomplish; sequential patterns are stored there to allow movement and thought to proceed smoothly without unlearning every step in the process of execution. Walking is the product of having previously learned sequential steps and practiced them to the point where the movement is smooth and not consciously edited. Thank goodness for the cerebellum! Think of how useful it is even in emergencies. If a car was speeding at you walking in its path you would not have to debate your action; You would haul butt in the direction of safety without thinking. Of corse adrenalin comes in handy too! This same ability can be applied to help you push through your creative block. Some would opinion that this process is nothing more than old-fashioned discipline. Not really! You are not forcing yourself to write or anything else. You are establishing a pattern that if followed enough triggers your will and inspiration to write! It bypasses all of the roadblocks that are really excuses like self-doubt and places you in that zone where you can make real progress.
Dancing, acting, sculpting, painting, writing, etc. whatever your passion is this works! So find and prepare your special place where you will ALWAYS work. Establish your day and time allowance. Write down and follow ALL of your steps EVERY time. You will push through that block surprising yourself and everyone else with what you can accomplish!