Written by Mack Writtens
Damn. There it goes again. A strange sense of uncomfortability has overwhelmed your body. Creativity is energy, and all energy flows like a river. Too many stones in the river and the flow slows. Maybe you have a lot on your mind or the environment around you is distracting you. Those are stones that you have to remove for the sake of your creativity continuing to rush like a raging river.
Personally, I am one of those creatives that is very particular about the mental and physical space I choose to create in. This is why I have been writing books since high school and it wasn’t until this year that I have been ready to release a piece of work I am actually satisfied with. Perfectionism is my blessing and my curse.
The smallest change to a room or my routine could get those stones out of the way. Hell, in my best state I could take all those stones in my way and build a mountain at the end of that river. To all my creatives, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what that feeling is like when you are surged with creative energy. It’s divine-like.
Here are some things that I have done over the years to get myself back in the creative space. Perhaps one or some of these will help you:
Change Your Scenery
As I stated before, the tiniest change in my environment could make the biggest difference. Take your work to the park, someone else’s living room, a library … I once saw an artist paint a masterpiece in the club. He was surrounded by trap music, twerking, and about 150 people. Test out a few environments to find out which one you thrive best in.
Sometimes the scenery you need to be will be determined by the topic of the work you are doing. Say you are trying to write a song about being in love forever; go visit those grandparents of yours that have been together for over 30 years. If you are trying to write a children’s book where the characters are squirrels, go to the woods and just sit and listen to them. Something might come that you can’t get anywhere else.
Also, you don’t always have to leave your original environment. Just change something within the physical space you spend most of your time in. There used to be a painting on my wall that was directly in front of me when I would sit at my desk to write stories. Once I removed it from my site, a whole two chapters just spewed out of me. I am always switching furniture around in my apartment. It helps me to never get too comfortable with just one set of scenery.
Exit Your Comfort Zone
Speaking of comfortability, you might find what you’re looking for in uncomfortability as well. Sometimes as creatives we find ourselves creating the same pattern of work and we need new ideas or in search of some innovation to arise in your mind.
When I exercise and lift, it is putting pressure on my body and mind so much that sometimes new discoveries just come up in my mind and I pull out my phone and record that thought in Voice Memos to remember for later.
Try getting out of your comfort zone. Get tense. Hip-Hop artists create the most heart-felt sounds from places of pain every day. That whole genre was born out of very uncomfortable environments.
Change Your Diet
Since we are on the topic of un comfortability, you might want to think of switching up your diet to a healthier routine. What your body consumes, affects how you think and that includes getting into the creative space. Check out this article by Daniel Kunitz for further information on the science behind that.
Match Music to Mood
The music you consume also affects your thinking. If you are one of those people who work better in the sounds of music, this section is for you. Even if you don’t thrive with music around, consider basking yourself in nothing but the music for about 30 minutes to an hour to get your head in the game.
Think of the mood you think is necessary to get fit for the creative space you need to be in for the particular project you are working on.
The other day a friend of mine was designing a summer dress. When she called asking for ways to get the stones out of her river, I suggested she put on a playlist of happy songs. She could have either compiled her own list of great songs with happy tones like Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” or Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” or she could search on YouTube or Spotify for pre-made playlists. Her river was flowing again.
Ask yourself these questions:
“What do I want the tone of this project to be?”
“What mood matches this tone?”
“What song(s) match that mood?”
If you are like me and you can’t focus around music with lyrics, here is a link to my personal playlist of instrumentals on Youtube.
Bye Bye Pessimistic Pests
As a creative, I value those objective and honest ears as much as the next person, but if your river ain’t flowing it could be because you are asking for feedback too soon in the game. Perhaps you keep thinking too much of what people might say and it’s clouding your judgement.
In the beginning stages of your creative process, just create. If you want the feedback, reserve a space and time for optimism, pessimism and realism later.
You have to get to a point where you are not concerned with how people will react, and just create. As a perfectionist, if you want to edit later then do that. But start unapologetically as fuck!
Sporadic Thought Jottin’
In this era of excessive (yes I said excessive) technology, there are unlimited ways to improve your memory and not let a good idea leave that river. Sometimes … Many times good ideas just come in pieces and not altogether. Therefore, it is vital that you jot down every creative thought you have.
As a songwriter I remember my old college roommate would post sticky notes all over the dorm whenever a bar or phrase came to his head. I once walked into a room of 50 sticky notes everywhere, it was like a conspiracy theorist’s wall. Later, he would look around the room at the different lines that were coming out, organize them, make connections and before you know it he had a whole project.
I do my sporadic thought jottin’ in my voice memos app on my iPhone. I pull it out and record an idea (no matter how big or small), the moment it comes and at the end of the day I review all that was said and see if I can organize it.
Value every little drop of the river that flows through.
Go to Dawn
Last, but not least, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you about the #WBAK series we got starting in July over here at Dawn! This site serves as a creative space online. You can connect with other creatives, and share your work and share your personality. I personally will be sharing a few activities from the #WBAK (Writer’s Block Activity Kit) that I used to use in Mack Writtens’ writing parties to help writers get the unnecessary stones out their river and just let it flow.