An Easy Cure for Creativity Blocks

I enjoy doing puzzles, and I’m quite good at it. I especially like to do 500-piece puzzles without seeing the picture so I have to let it unfold as I put the pieces in place. I do not put the borders together first, filling them in only when a section warrants edges. It makes it more fun and stimulating that way.

For me, working on a puzzle is great mental stimulation and a form of meditation that lets me ponder about and sit with things needing to be done or decisions to be made or ideas to be developed.

Being very visual, it’s easy for me to discern the different puzzle piece shapes, color shades and variances and patterns, and it takes me only a couple of hours to finish the smaller 500-piece puzzles. I enjoy larger 1000-piece ones, too, although they take more time and space.

The other day I was working on a puzzle and suddenly found myself feeling very tense and frustrated because I couldn’t find places for pieces I had picked up. The very oddness of feeling tense while doing a puzzle was enough to make me step back to look at what was causing the tension.

Immediately, the source became crystal clear. My usual path is to look at the sections already put together, look for specific puzzle piece shapes and colors, then hunt the pile for pieces that fit that criteria. I had shifted paths and was picking up pieces from the pile and unsuccessfully trying to find their home from within the sections already connected.

The minute I realized how I had shifted my approach to doing the puzzle, I returned to the other far more productive method and all the tension went away.

Have you ever had that happen to you?

Writer’s block is a common example of having a shift in focus that causes tension. I learned that lesson a long time ago while developing workshops and seminar materials.

I learned quickly that timing is everything and everything has its time, so I never try to write something if I am not aligned with what I want to say. This was vividly illustrated to me many years ago when I had committed to deliver a workshop. I had three months before delivery, plenty of time to create it.

I knew conceptually what the workshop was about, but had not written anything down. And as the weeks flew past and the due date got closer, my internal alarm system got fearful, but I knew from experience that it just wasn’t time to write.

It was the week before my workshop was due and still there was nothing ready to write. When it was three days before the event and still not ready,  I admit that by then my internal alarm system was freaking out. But, as any writer knows, if it isn’t there, it just isn’t there and there is nothing you can do to make it be there, right?

I trusted myself to deliver, and did other stuff that I was more inspired to do.

The morning of the workshop I woke up, went directly to my computer, and within three hours had written the course materials and workbook for a 2½ hour workshop that I delivered that night. The reviews were excellent and there was nothing that needed to be changed.

Now granted, this was an extreme situation, but I’ve discovered that there is a flow in writing “¦ indeed, in everything in life “¦ and when we align with the flow of it, it unfolds easily and quickly.

Oftentimes, an excellent way to break writer’s block (or any creativity block) is to go do something else “¦ like a puzzle. Step away from what you are doing and place your attention elsewhere. Pick something you feel inspired to do.

What will happen is that while your attention is focused on something else, your subconscious (and sometimes conscious mind) will continue to think about what you were writing; and, all of a sudden, your mind will clear, the cause of the block revealed and the flow state returns.

Of course, it helps to be mindful of when the writer’s block hits, so you don’t waste precious time and energy trying to force yourself to find the flow. For, indeed, the flow comes naturally when you are aligned with what you are doing.

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