Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Million Dollar Question: How do you overcome creative block?

Daily Drawing, gel pen on black paper. 15.10.14

Creativity is a funny thing, I always wish for more time in my studio and then when I get it I find myself faced with something I can most accurately describe as artists block. There are of course a variety of contributing factors; sometimes I just have so many ideas I don't know what to do first (so I end up not doing anything) sometimes I am afflicted by a crippling lack of confidence in my ability (so I end up not doing anything) sometimes I am worried about things outside of my 'art life' and this affects my ability to focus on my work (so I end up not doing anything) and sometimes I just don't feel like it. This is just a brief summary, like all things it is much more complex and usually it is a combination of factors rather than just one thing stopping me from making work.

Daily Drawing, pen on paper. 17.10.14

So, how to overcome this? This is the million dollar question (which always makes me wonder, why in the UK do we say the million dollar question not the million pound question?) that if only I could find the answer to all my problems would be solved. What I am learning, slowly and sometimes quite painfully, is that there is no answer. I just have to accept it, stop worrying and try and go with the flow a bit more. Sometimes I won't feel like making work, I just want to crochet some flowers. Is that, I now ask myself, such a bad thing? Probably not and by crocheting those flowers I will probably become more relaxed and able to generate ideas which will lead to the block dissolving away and allowing me to get back on my creative path (apologies for the somewhat random mixing of metaphors.)

Daily Drawing, pen on paper. 19.10.14

I do, naturally, have some strategies for overcoming artists block. One of these is creative procrastination (a phrase I have stolen from someone but I can't remember who) which involves useful but non essential activities such as tidying my ribbon box and arranging my coloured pencils in colour order until I feel inspired to make again. Another strategy, and probably the most successful, I have touched on above; making what I feel like making. The act of knitting and crochet in particular I find very therapeutic. I am able to relax and enter an almost zen like state where my mind is occupied just enough to keep out the thoughts that block my creativity but not so busy that it can't wander and follow trains of thought that sometimes lead to quite interesting places and ideas. I have also tried doing set exercises, such as spending a certain amount of time drawing something, however I find that my contrary nature tends to rebel against this kind of enforced creativity, worsening the problem.

Daily Drawing, pen on paper. 25.10.14

As I've been writing this I've been questioning why I've decided to share this with you all, in a sense I am exposing myself and telling you all that, shock horror, I'm not always creative which is a hard thing for a creative person to admit. I think the reason I chose to write this post at this time is that I'm learning to be more accepting (of myself, my circumstances, my feelings) and by writing down that it doesn't always go as planned, that I can't just turn on the creative tap at will I can let myself know that that's okay or maybe I just fancied a bit of a rant or I wanted to get my thoughts straight? Whatever the reason(s) I'd be really interested to know how you overcome creative block and to hear your ideas and suggestions.

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