Six Ways to Deal with Stumbling Blocks to Creative Thinking

Whether we call it writer’s block, creative block, or the blues – sometimes we can’t come up with a single idea or a simple response. We’re stuck and there seems to be no way forward.

This can happen for hours or it can happen for days. And sadly for some, it can happen for years. So what do we do that doesn’t involve drugs, alcohol or any other brain altering substance?

Here are six suggestions for dealing with a stumbling block:

  1. Admit that it’s there. Find a physical representation of the block, like the one I’ve pictured above. Literally place the block in your workspace and force yourself to deal with it. Now try writing on the paper with this large block upon it. You’ll have to stand up in order to write around the top of the block and you’ll have to write on an angle. And you’ll probably start getting angry, AT THE BLOCK, and no longer at yourself. Sooner or later you’ll pick the block up and put it somewhere else. When you do, it will be much easier to write–the words can flow straight-out.
  2. Chose a pebble to represent your block. Take a long, hard look at the pebble. Pick it up and roll it with your fingers. How could such a pitifully small piece of stone possibly hold you back from doing what you need to do? It can’t. So toss it in the wastebasket and get on with it.
  3. Package and sell blocks as pets and make millions of dollars.
  4. Write about or do something creative with the block. Talk to it. Question it. Explore it for insights. You could do that with the physical representation of the block or the block itself. Why is it here? Why is it here now? What significance does it have? How long does it intend to be around? When will it leave? Why not now? Why are you letting it bother you?
  5. Remember what is unique about you, the perspectives you hold, the talents you possess, the manner in which you inhabit the world. Explore how only you could write a sentence, develop an idea or lead a team. Then try doing it.
  6. Take some time off and separate yourself from the block. Remind yourself that you left it where you left it and enjoy a walk in the country, a visit to a new part of town, or conversation with friends. Relax, renew, re-create.
When I was in university, I had a small card on the cork board above the desk in my room. The card said: “Problems are solved by moving ahead.” Sometimes the answer to not being able to do something is to do something.
What do you think? What ideas do you have to overcome stumbling blocks to creative thinking? I welcome your comments below.


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