Getting Past Creative Blocks

Fear is one of the biggest creative blocks an artist can face: fear of what others will think; fear of the blank page or canvas; fear of failure; fear of success; fear of silence; fear of…well, it can be fear of practically anything. Fear is one of my biggest personal creative and spiritual blocks, like a huge wall that blocks me from accessing any of my creativity.

Last week was not a great writing week for me, due to a lot of valid reasons. But I still feel a bit guilty that I didn’t do much of the truly creative, first-draft writing last week. Partly that’s because I wasn’t entirely honest with myself about why I wasn’t writing. Instead of just acknowledging that I was trying to do too much and set more reasonable goals, I honed in on my fears of the particular project that I didn’t get to. It’s a great project, and it’s coming along really well, but as soon as I step away from it, as soon as I’m not fully engaged with it, I become afraid of not having the skill and talent to pull it off. Sound familiar?

This fear has been haunting me for the past couple of weeks, and I needed to do something about it. I can pull out The Soul Tells a Story by Vinita Hampton Wright (which has great prompts for helping a writer to delve into her or his experience), The Artist Way or Fearless Creating, or any other of a number of resources, but there’s no guarantee they will work. I have, however, found one way to unblock that almost always works if I actually do it: to dare to try something new. I don’t really understand how, but somehow braving the new and untried helps me get past whatever is blocking my writing. Perhaps my familiar fear doesn’t seem so scary any more by comparison. Or maybe, it’s the experience of going past one fear that gives me the courage to fly over the other.

So, this month I decided to dare to do something new. I agreed to speak on Salt + Light Radio every three weeks or so about new and recent film releases to DVD–kind of like mini-movie reviews. We did our first show on October 1st, and today I finally had the chance to listen to the little segment. (It’s an hour-long show–a lively mix of news about the Vatican, the Church in Canada, new Christian and Catholic music albums, and in-depth interviews on various topics. And then, my little segment added in.)

I just finished listening to it, and I think my reviews actually don’t sound too bad…although I’ve already got a number of ideas about how I can improve next time. And, amazingly, I have bunches of ideas of what to write–on my big project, and on several smaller ones I’m working at.

What is your biggest creative block? And what do you do to unblock?


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