Hello and welcome to another edition of the MabsArts Blog, today we will be talking about creative block and how an action can create the momentum necessary to get your creativity rolling again.
Let’s get started.
Have you ever felt tired and unproductive? Without ideas or simply not able to put your pencil down on paper? Yeah?
I have too, actually it’s a very recurring thing for me. Almost every day I wake up feeling uninspired and totally uncreative, and that might be alright if I worked at a regular 9-5 job, however that is not the case. I am a full independent freelance artist so not feeling creative can be as detrimental as a hurricane storm demolishing my work building.
Yet somehow I still always have to battle with this lack of motivation to the work that I need to do.
I won’t be telling you that I have that answer to everyone’s creative block but instead I will give you some resources that allow me to fight creative block and win, day in and day out.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield (born September 1943) is an American author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays. He also happened to write one of the best books about the nature of Creative Block and general resistance towards creativity.
The War of Art is basically and indepth guide into resistance, and what is resistance you may ask? Well resistance in the creative fields are all the things that do not allow you to materialize your idea. This ranges from things like your family and friends always needing you, thus you don’t have time to create, right down to sex and alcohol and all the coping mechanisms we use in order to escape our creativity.
However the reason I suggest this book in this post is because, it helped me understand that all the reasons I might have had at some point that prevented me from creating were all completely mental blocks that I would put up because I was scared of failing. The moment I realized that, I started embracing failure as a learning experience and that helped me create without limits or obstacles. It helped me understand that if I was the one creating the blocks then I could definitely be the one breaking them.
Invocation to the Muse by Homer, Translated by T.E.Lawrence
Another really useful thing I got from “The War of Art” was the Invocation to the Muse, a poem by Homer, translated by T.E.Lawrence. This bit of poetry is meant to be recited before starting your creative session and it is mean to invoke the power of the Muses in order to aid you while you create, and whilst I know this might all sound like MumboJumbo, it actually helps.
The reason it helps is because creativity and the arts have always been intrinsically tied to the spiritual realm. Is there a bigger manifestation of spirit than taking something from the abstracts (our ideas/thoughts) and turning it into a reality? It’s short of a miracle by just a couple of hairs, if you ask me. So then, how exactly does this poem help us with our creative block?
Well, most of the reasons behind the block is resistance, and resistance comes from stress which comes from fear, and fear comes from the unknown. Thusly when you put the result of your creativity into the hands of an all powerful artful deity, it really isn’t your fault if it fails or if it succeeds. It’s the muse, and the muse has it’s reason for why you need to create what you create.
This kind of mentality helps us distance yourself from the product and allows us to enjoy the journey rather than the goal.
Which brings me to my next point.
What Sri Krisna said to Arjuna in the battefield
Listen, Imma be honest. I do not know much about the Hindu culture but this one bit of wisdom from Sri Krishna to Arjuna has stuck with me for years and is literally the pinnacle of all my creative outputs.
So essentially there is this guy that was the commander of an army thousands of years back in Hindu culture. There is also an ascended master by the name of Sri Krishna or Lord Krishna (some say he is also a god).
So during the time of the war, Arjuna was feeling pretty sad about the whole thing, see because he did not like killing he taught it was a bit senseless, and he might have been true, but Lord Krishna knew that if Arjuna did not lead the army, thousands of more people would’ve lost their homes and their families and entire villages could have been whipped out.
So Arjuna in his sadness went looking for guidance from Lord Krishna. You can find the whole conversation here. It’s quite a long and fascinating conversation, I think it even has a part where Krishna becomes “Death” the devourer of worlds, though I might be confusing that story with this one, yet there is a part of the story that really has stuck with me.
In the story, Arjuna tells Krishna of his woes of battle, and Lord Krishna replies with some very wise words that I will go on to paraphrase below.
The way of the warrior is not the spoil of war, but the journey of the sword
I definitely butchered the beautiful hindu scriptures, but the idea is that as warrior artists, we are not owed anything. We chose this vocation because we loved the sword/medium, not because of the money or the fame, but because we enjoyed the time we spent creating art. The journey is all that mattered for the warriors and for us as artists, everything else is irrelevant. Think not of what will happen after you finish the painting or the photo, or the sculpture. Instead only focus on it while it’s happening and you are creating it. After that it is no longer yours, then it for the world to enjoy and you shall go on to fight another battle/another painting.
Take note of this, for if you ever want to be a true artist you must recognize that your duty is the creation of the art, never it’s result.
That’s about it for today, I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that you can find in yourself the way towards your next masterpiece.
Before we sign off completely though, I do have one last thing I would like to tell you about creativity and the way it works.
See a lot of people think that we artists only work when the muse strikes, that we’re all just hanging around in our underwear waiting for that spark of creativity to light up and have us typing or drawing for days or weeks, but that is not true at all. The real professionals, are the ones that sit down at their desk and work no matter where the muse is, because when you cultivate inside you the spark and you guild that rose even when it starts looking a little plastic, you’ll see that past that is a much bigger muse. You get a hold of momentum, and momentum cannot be stopped.
Think of a rock that falls down the side of a snowy mountain. As it falls down it picks up snow which makes it grow in size, which results in it picking up more snow, and the cycle repeats all the way down the mountain. Right to the point where a giant snowball is rolling through the cities.
Well art is like that. If you ignore the work and only work when you are inspired, you will never gather momentum. Inspiration comes and goes it’s always moving and igniting or disappearing. Yet momentum is like a flywheel, the more energy you give it, the faster it spins. So if you’re feeling uninspired, instead of ignoring the work, try to start somewhere.
Almost everyday I do not want to work, yet I always do, and the secret is that instead of focusing on the mountain of To-Do’s I have to do. I focus on the 1 thing I can do right now. The one thing that sparks joy in me, or the one thing I can finish quickly enough that I will not dredge the task. That one thing usually acts as a bridge towards the next thing, and then that next thing becomes a bridge towards the next thing, and so on, so on.
By the end of the day I’ve already worked on my to-do’s and time passed without much resistance, all because I choose to do the one thing I could do right now.
So what’s that one thing you can do today that will move your dreams forward? Think about it and post it down in the comments section below, and of course don’t forget to do it.
Till next time,
I can keep working on my game design document. Writing is free, and I have all the tools.
A lot of time I am guilty of focusing on the things I don’t have yet, while I didn’t complete what I am actually able to.
I feel you, a great way to get those things you can do, done. Is making a list of them, only write down the things you can truly do and go down that list. Those things you get done today will propel you forward towards the next thing and they will, in time, allow you to reach and complete the goals you are not able to do yet.