A squeezing grip around your heart, no matter how hard you wish for artist's block to go away that freeze on the flow of your ideas just isn't going anywhere. Like being snowed in for a long winter, it can be dark, bleak and miserably lonely. For a while now I've been struggling with breaking down that wall and getting those ideas and creativity flowing, and it's definitely harder than it looks.
Creative block can happen to all of us, no matter what you do - draw, paint, write, cook, bubble gum sculptures, it can strike at any moment. The lights go out and suddenly you can't see the beauty or wonder in anything. Life is just blah. Being creative in a blah life is next to impossible. I'll sit in front of the computer, a sketch book, a bucket of lego and nothing will happen. Nothing will get created.
Have you ever experienced it? It's awful, and when creativity is such a huge part of who you are, it can seem like a piece of you just flew away. As I sit in front of a blank piece of paper I start to get the feeling that nothing is ever going to come, and this leads to an unwillingness to try. The notebooks get dusty and my sharpeners begin to rust, and I get blue watching all this time go by without a single thing to show for it - apart from perhaps a healthy right hand mouse click, and the highest number of rings I've ever collected as Sonic the Hedgehog...
In my journey through the proverbial wall, I discovered ways in which to equip myself with metaphorical tools that would help me break the barriers down. The best first step I could think of was going past the symptom to find the cause, and trying to solve the problems that may be building this wall around me.
These are my reasons. When I stopped and looked at everything I had on my plate, it was clear to see why I might not be feeling very creative. From this point I found it easier to navigate the next step and find a way of dealing with the problems, and pushing through them.
It's tricky to decide in which direction to go next. Although identifying the issues behind it made things a little easier, figuring out how to combat the block was still a hefty task. It's getting over that first hurdle that's the trouble, chipping away slowly and patiently until you can finally remove that first brick, and see the light on the other side.
The first thing I did, was nothing. As I was not able to think of ideas or feel in the mood to create, it seemed like a sensible move to embrace the lack of movement in my artistic life. I took a break from creating, and by choosing that break rather than trying to push through it, I was validating my own decision to not create. That felt miles better, particularly in this heat as it gave me the chance to really enjoy the summer and get parts of what some people might call a tan. I wasn't thinking "I should be using this time to create" and trying to be more productive, instead I was actually beginning to enjoy the lack of work and pushing myself. I became an art bum. Van Gogh would have been proud, the mooching layabout.
Accepting my forced hiatus gave me some breathing room, and a little perspective. It refreshed me and took a load off my mind, and felt like the first domino had finally began to fall. After that, I took some steps to ensure I maintained that positivity as I began to break through. These were my guidelines, I don't like to call them "rules" because it sounds too rigid. Rigidity is what got me here in the first place...
Sitting staring at the screen feeling sorry for myself I took a big gulp from my mug and thought to myself how deliciously comforting a cup of tea can be. Warm and wet, washing away all of life's distractions with one milky wave. It's like a snuggly duvet on the inside. Tea. Glorious Tea. I got out my sketchbook and drew a cup. Then a pot. Then ten pots. Then a room with a teacup in it, and a typographic poster about how amazing tea is and before you know it, ideas are sliding in thick and fast, and piling up in my head like love letters on Ryan Gosling's door mat. I had broken through, and finally I could feel the flow begin again.
Having lived my whole life knowing that a brew will always see you through, I don't know how I could have missed it being the key to combating artists block. I guess the fact that it's been too hot to drink it for the last 3 months has been a contributing factor...
Now that I'm back in the game I'm churning out decent ideas by the bucketload. The past week or so I've been thoroughly enjoying creating new things, coming up with new ideas and exploring just how far I can push my creativity. But like a cold hard case of jury duty, it can come at any time, and last for as little or as long as it chooses. All an artist can do is be prepared.
Creative block is a struggle. I'm not saying it's a fight for your life or anything, I'm not in talks with Lance Armstrong about any wristbands. But it is something that can affect an artist and their work. It makes them moody, at the very least. Take some time to validate and appreciate your creative process and flow, you never know when it'll dry up. And if you're ever in any doubt, put the kettle on.