Creative Blocks and Finding Your Flow

08/23/2016 creative conversations logo

I’m so excited to start this new series! I’ll occasionally be engaging a few creatives in a conversation on various topics related to creative living. For our first Creative Conversation, I have  Joy Cho of Oh Joy!, Taylor Sterling of Glitter Guide, and Kelli Murray of Rylee + Cru sharing their experience with creative blocks and how they work through them. I’ll end each series with a wrap-up about the topic from my clinical perspective. I hope you enjoy!

Joy, Taylor, and Kelli, thank you so much for engaging in this creative conversation! Many creatives look up to you, and might believe that you don’t struggle with the same creative blocks that they do. Could you dispel this myth for them? What are some of the creative blocks that you’ve struggled with? When these blocks show up, what helps you work through them?

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Joy Cho of Oh Joy! // Designer and Blogger

“I get creative blocks ALL THE TIME. Because of social media and people always seeing my ‘highlight reel’, they assume ideas are always booming and that life is perfect. We all get creative blocks. Some times I feel like I have completely run out of ideas or like I have NOTHING new or great to offer. But then I get my butt away from the computer, I go do something different, go see something different. And usually, that helps refuel my fire to get excited again about what I’m working on. Sometimes the funk lasts a day, sometimes a week, sometimes longer. But it always passes and somehow the ideas come back again. It’s a constant work in progress.”

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Taylor Sterling of Glitter Guide // Founder and Creative Director

“I struggle with creative blocks all the time. I’ve learned to accept it as part of the creative process. I allow it to push me to new heights and new ideas. With the plethora of blogs, social media and the constant flow of images that are being presented to me every day it’s easy to start to feel like there are no new ideas anymore. I remember when starting Glitter Guide, I was so worried that it wasn’t a totally new thing, but then I realized that there aren’t too many brand new ideas these days. Things are reincarnated and reimagined. Or maybe it’s just that you take an idea and do it your own way; a better way. If I have a really bad day where I am stumped or feeling negative about work, I take that as an excuse to get outside. Spend time with friends and family. Do something I normally wouldn’t have time for, like going to a bookstore or maybe visiting at a museum that I’ve been really wanting to visit. Usually when I take even just a day to step back I find that the creative juices will start to flow again. I get my creative mojo back and I feel more confident in what I’m doing. Luckily, more often I tend to have too many ideas and just don’t know how to execute them all, but that’s an issue I’m happy to have.

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Kelli Murray of Rylee + Cru // Artist and Designer

“I think creative blocks are something all creative people go through from time to time, and in a way, they are healthy.  For me, there are seasons in my work that require a ton of creative output, and seasons that require less.  During those demanding seasons, I often find myself at the end of my rope, wondering how I can possibly come up with MORE ideas, MORE artwork, ect, ect.  A deadline often forces my creative process and sometimes that makes things tricky.  I’ve found that it’s only when I step away from a project and focus my attention elsewhere, that the inspiration starts flowing again.  And it’s simple things….like taking a day off with my kids, experiencing nature, or spending time with other inspiring people.  I tend to over-think everything, which usually clouds my vision.  When I find myself in that space, I know the best thing for me is to take a step back and find a new perspective.”

Thanks ladies! I love how each of these creative women find that creating distance between themselves and their craft helps revitalize inspiration and re-discover their creative flow. If we look at creativity objectively, it has no bounds. It’s found in the arts, music, writing, sports, fashion, beauty, and health. It’s in our homes, our kitchens, our schools, even our relationships. Creativity as an entity may have no bounds, but if you are human, you have certainly experienced blocks to your creative self.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic (which I highly recommend), defined creativity as “the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.” Have you ever had the supernatural experience of being inspired? Have you ever been hit with a winning idea? I hope you have had this experience or can recall it, because wow, what a feeling.  On the other hand, when experiencing creative blocks you might feel heavy, tired, or bored. You may feel restless and judgmental of yourself and others. When it gets bad enough, blocked creativity can lead to clinical depression and anxiety.

The thing that often stands firmly between inspiration and action is fear-fueled resistance. First let me say, fear resides in all of us, no one goes untouched. Fear is not a totally bad thing. Imagine someone who was completely fearless and had no respect for the real life dangers of the world. We need fear to protect us from these real life dangers. The thing with fear is that it also finds its way into the areas of our life that don’t need protecting. It’s no longer just keeping us safe; it’s getting in the way of our full potential. Fear is an invisible force to be reckoned with. Fear is relentless and knows exactly what trigger points to press to get you further away from your inner creative self. I have good news and bad news about fear. The bad news is that we can’t get rid of it. It’s not going away because we still need it to some degree. The good news is that you don’t have to believe everything it tells you. Fear does not have to determine your destination.

Tomorrow on Glitter Guide I’ll be sharing 12 pointers for working through creative blocks, and will link to that post here tomorrow. In addition, this weekend I’ll be co-hosting a Creative Living workshop in Orange County with my colleague Dr. Chris Hoff. For more information on the workshop, click here!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with creative blocks and how you work through them in the comments below!

Photo of Joy Cho |Photo of Taylor Sterling |Photo of Kelli Murray

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