Creative Funk~ How Do you Get Past Blocks?

Another artist on a FaceBook group I belong to asked the question of how to get out of a creative block that she’d been in for quite a while.  It inspired me to post my thoughts about it. My answer (elaborated here) was this:

Small Steps

“Musings in the Daisies” 9″ x 12″ GraphiteTilinda the elf seems to have the expression one has when locked in creative inertia.
“Musings in the Daisies” 9″ x 12″ Graphite
Tilinda the elf seems to have the expression one has when locked in creative inertia.

Have you ever watched a dog getting ready to take a nap?  Mine would circle the spot where she planned to sleep several times before finally laying down.  I watched her and learned.  So my “circling” is to clean up, arrange my work space (if it needs it) and then get a piece of watercolor paper taped on a board.  I start with the mundane and non- threatening steps.  Next I flip through my my sketchbook looking for something that pops out at me that makes me want to paint and usually after circling around like that I’m ready.

But if I have no idea of what I want to paint after that, here are a couple of things that usually work.   I  grab my sketchbook and start doodling.  A lot of times something will emerge that I want to do.  If not then I look at other artists works for inspiration.  I find 3-4 paintings that I like of 3-4 different artists and  using one or two elements that I liked in each painting create a new piece.  Something new emerges that I might not have thought of before.

in·er·tia ~  [in-ur-shuh, ih-nur-]  noun

1.  Inertness, especially with regard to effort, motion, action, and the like;
inactivity; sluggishness.

2. Physics.
       a.the property of matter by which it retains its state of rest or its velocity
along a straight line
so long as it is not acted upon by an
external force.
        b. an analogous property of a force: electric inertia.
3. Medicine/Medical . lack of activity, especially as applied to a uterus during
childbirth when its 
contractions have decreased or stopped. 
(Kind of sounds like creativity stopped dead in its tracks….)

Creative funk is nothing but of inertia.  It takes energy,  some kind of movement or force to get going from a point of standstill.  If  I take any small step, even if it seems insignificant, I can start moving in the direction I want to go.   I’m able to build momentum and move past whatever is keeping me locked up.   And usually but not always it’s fear.  Fear is an emotion,  e-motion, or energy in motion.  Or at least it should be in motion but what is usually done is that I bury it, stuff it down so that it becomes trapped in my body.  I don’t think I’m alone in that. 😉  The way to release any emotion it is to feel it.  You don’t even have to give it a name, like  fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, resentment, etc.  Just feel it.  Notice where it’s living in you.  Feel the spot in your body and really pay attention to what it feels like. When I do this I notice after a relatively short time that it starts to move and dissipate and I feel so much more free and energetic.   Because there’s so much that I haven’t been willing to feel forever I find that I’m peeling an onion layer after layer.  It’s getting smaller but it’s not gone. And most importantly I have to keep feeling.  Feeling is where it’s at and most importantly, the more I feel the more creative I am.  And that is what’s so important~ that I’m able to fully express myself into the world.


One more thing about inertia.  If you do get yourself going and moving, don’t stop.  At the very least have the next idea ready in your head. A sketchbook filled with ideas goes a long way toward giving you the momentum that you need to stay out of the funk bucket.  Sketches are also a great way to keep exploring new directions, because boredom is another kind of block inducer.   Let whatever idea comes into your head take shape on the paper.  It doesn’t mean you ever have to do anything with it but you will have told your unconscious that ideas are important and the muse of imagination will gladly give you more.

Your Turn

So how have you gotten past creative  block?  Or are you stuck now?  Please leave your comments below because  I’d love to hear them.

Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved Ann Gates Fiser

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