No wonder I am writing this. The shortest distance between writing and publishing is creative thinking unless your mind takes over. Imagine an ideal scenario of framing some idea and then creatively pursuing it till the finished product is delivered. Voila!
Child’s play. After all, that is what we do all the time. Frankly, what you write is written before. Isn’t it?
Invent or re-invent; either way, creative thinking comes to the fore and makes it happen.
Whether we plan, write, or brainstorm the next big idea, we all experience creative block. The predicament and perils of the creative process are similar for each of us.
The process for achieving creative success depends on your perspective and seeing things differently than you currently do.
Also, creative thinking touted as some imaginary power available to a few is an incorrect notion developed by society. We are creative by birth, and any quest to find inspiration to unleash creativity is a farce.
Assume and be assured of your creative ability while look towards the imaginary mental blocks acting as a roadblock to creative pursuits.
Defining mental block
Simply speaking, a mental block is a situation that obstructs our thought process. It prevents you from tapping into your natural creative abilities. You find yourself in the riddle: lacking clarity, no focus, and eventually resulting in a lack of drive.
The downside to this issue results in overthinking and fatigue. Moreover, the creative pursuit takes a pounding since commencing a new project or finishing an existing one becomes a problem.
Common causes of mental blocks
A typical cause for the mental block occurs due to our attachment towards the outcome of a situation. It happens because of our inherent nature to get a perfect result. Once we develop certain biases towards the work, pressure to deliver and perform rises. Once the stakes are high, we tend to freeze and get stuck more often.
If we were to consider medical factors, a 2016 study by Harvard Medical School puts the onus on various reasons such as:
- Lack of proper sleep
- Deficiency of Vitamin B12
- Lack of exercise
While these are the reasons identified by the study, various other reasons are causing this inability.
- Impostor syndrome: Feeling that you are incapable of producing content or ideas.
- Perfectionism: The idea of a perfect outcome is often flawed and leads to blocking.
- Procrastination: It leads to anxiety and stress, causing mental blocks.
- Clutter: It impacts productivity and clarity.
5 mental blocks to creative thinking and how to work around them
#1. Self-doubting your creativity
It’s like losing half the battle. Constant affirmation of not being enough is a bummer when it comes to creative pursuits. You are, and you aren’t are both true. Either way, it imposes a belief of being insufficient or lack.
When doubt overpowers us, fear dominates the thought process. Our fears are inherently present caused by the consistent declaration of lack and confidence in our abilities.
Self-doubting our creativity is like self-imposed torture that conjures drastic results. If you keep telling yourself that you’re not creative, it becomes true.
Acknowledge yourself and the fact that you were born creative. Always focus on the process rather than the failure. Each individual is different and brings a unique perspective exclusive to the one. Remember how we looked up at the sky and used to form imaginary figures from the clouds. While mine can be a ship, yours could be a plane. It is only perspective and unique to everyone. Work with yours.
#2. Quest for the perfect answer
Sometimes we have to flow without focusing on the correct outcome. Creativity demands free spirit and an open approach. We are mere machines trained to deliver the desired result. While it helps to function within the realms of social life, creativity suffers. Not everything has a perfect answer, and it is okay to have various options.
Our education structure sadly inculcates the spirit of finding the exact answer as dictated by society. When it comes to real-life situations, the approach is found wanting because of life’s ambiguity.
There is no point in figuring out the perfect answer. Nothing is perfect when it comes to life situations. Creative pursuits need spontaneity and wishful thinking.
#3. Our preconceived notions
Since we grow within frameworks and boundaries, assumptions become our biggest ally. We like to assume things before even trying. We have preconceived notions of everything. Creative thinking breeds open expression while keeping all avenues open.
Assumptions restrict the very fabric of creative thinking. We fail to discover new innovative options or methods to a problem.
Moreover, our notions are rarely tested. They are there because of external influences.
They prompt us to discard possibilities, and they also stop us from following the lines of thought, which may often lead to the answer or insights we need.
Discard assumptions and notions that are merely the brainchild of influences around you. If your preconceived notions are not backed by some proof or tested by yourself, there’s no point in following them blindly and creating a barrier between you and creative thinking.
#4. Fearing failure
Experience is the best teacher, and we only learn something by doing. Yet, we try face-saving when we undertake something and fail. The reason is constant criticism or being mocked when we fail or get something wrong.
You fail in some subject, and you are labeled no good. Even when we try honestly yet fail, the world ensures we feel regret for our failure. Time and again, we get reminders of our inabilities to get things right and are made to feel dejected.
No wonder we crave perfection and detest failure. The repercussions are inevitable.
Fearing failure keeps us off from trying, and we lose creativity in the process.
He who never tries is an ignorant failure than the one who tried but failed.
Mistakes and failures always lead to the best results. There are many examples within history where failures led to massive success in life. Moreover, every entrepreneur or billionaire we admire reached great heights because of their propensity to take a risk and embrace failure.
Approach everything as an experiment. You might succeed or learn once done. You don’t fail but learn the incorrect method.
#5. The first step
The first step is the toughest. Perhaps, all this while I have been writing, I have always struggled to start. Once it does, rest falls in place. It happens because we do everything else but start. The anticipation, anxiety, and stress of how everything would work out stops us from the first step itself.
Even before engaging with the real deal, we get numb due to the clutter in our heads.
We procrastinate and put our minds in overdrive. What if, How, and What next are a few questions that grip us.
The mental block of taking the first step is the biggest roadblock to creativity.
Just write. I have been guilty of thinking, planning, and strategizing, but nothing beats the first few lines. It is always about punching the damn keys and getting something out. It takes away your anxiety or brings clarity. Writing is a game of flow. Once you start, the chain of thoughts form, and the cycle begins.
For any creative endeavor, the start is half the battle. Preferably, rather than anticipating what all could be wrong, focus on your thoughts.
Let go of the anxiety and thoughts holding you back and channel your inner creativity at work.
We’re all infinitely creative, but only to the extent, we believe in our skills. Your perception plays a major role in assessing the prowess you possess. Keep convincing yourself of the fact that creativity is not a skill to be learned but unleashed. Believe and take that first step and let it flow.