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Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Musings ~ Blocks to Creativity - Part One


This week I will continue to share a few excerpts from the out of print book by David Edwards called How to be more Creative. This week's post will cover some common blocks to creativity.

Since creativity is not taught or nurtured in our schools or in our society, many fail to realize their full potential. It is recognized that children tend to be more creative than adults. If we don't "exercise this muscle" it will atrophy with disuse. The "child within us" grows old and much of the natural creativity that may exist is ignored, repressed or we lose our individuality and we become more conforming to societies expectation of "playing it safe". An important step to becoming more creative is to recognize what some of these roadblocks are and make steps to removing them from our lives. According to Edwards, the blocks to Creativity can take three forms: emotional, perceptual, and cultural.

Emotional Block #1 - Fear.
"The most common type of emotional block is fear. Fear of appearing stupid, fear of making a mistake, fear of failing. Asking questions, which is essential to creativity, means laying your ignorance out in the open. That's something we all learned to avoid a long time ago. It's still hard at times to risk ridicule or disfavor and come right out and say "I don't know".
Fear of failing is perhaps the biggest block of all. No one wants to fail. And some of us will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid failure of any kind. Some people won't play games for fear of losing. Some of us won't quit jobs we loath because we fear failing in a new career.
But failure is a universal experience. Practically everyone fails before he or she succeeds, especially while learning a new skill. And without that failure there can be no success. Would you have learned to walk if you had quit after your first fall? The only real difference between a baby learning to walk and an adult learning to ski is that when the adult falls down his or her ego gets bruised. A willingness to take risks, especially to risk failure, is an essential characteristic of the creative person."
"If you're not failing now and again. it's a sign you're playing it safe" Woody Allen
Emotional block #2 - The Need to Conform
"Everyone has a need to conform, to belong to a group. We conform in our dress, our speech, our activities and in our thinking. But being creative often means being different, in our thoughts and in our solutions to problems. While some of us are afraid of being different, it doesn't have to mean eccentric, or oddball, or anti-social. It's simply a willingness to try new things.
Individuals who need to conform closely to society's rules and regulations may find it difficult to be creative. That's because leaving the well marked roadway to explore the unknown can be disorienting and uncomfortable. Expressing ideas that run counter to popular opinion means risking disapproval and censure. But to be creative, relax your need for conformity and be prepared to break the rules."

Emotional block #3 - Frustration
"We all have a frustration threshold. When it's exceeded, because of repeated failure or too much pressure, the autonomic nervous system takes over. Then our behavior is no longer controlled by our initial goal and it becomes difficult if not impossible to solve a problem creatively.
When you're blocked by frustration, the best solution is to relax completely, physically and mentally. Then, in the next minute or the next day, begin again with a fresh attitude and perhaps a fresh approach to the problem. Efforting through the frustration will do no good. In a state of frustration the passage to your creativity is closed tight, just as if there were an automatic shutoff valve."
Emotional Block #4 - Too much or too little motivation.
" Without sufficient motivation we don't turn on our talents. If a problem is boring or doesn't challenge our abilities, we're unlikely to discover our full creative powers. And individuals who are convinced they have no creative ability usually don't even try.
But surprisingly, too much motivation can also block creativity. If you're too anxious to solve a problem, you may attack it ineffectively. While concentrating on the solution, you may misunderstand the problem; pressed for results, you may accept the first workable answer as the best answer; blind with enthusiasm, you overlook the obvious. As one psychologist puts it, "motivation stimulates action, which may preclude thinking." Or, put more simply, "the man in a hurry misses the way."
If you find yourself attacking a problem too zealously, watch out. Slow down, back up, and give yourself the time necessary to examine all aspects of the situation. Creativity often blooms best in an environment of relaxed awareness. Excessive motivation, like frustration, can make you work too hard. And trying too hard creates an inner tension that blocks you from your creativity."
Next week I will finish posting three additional emotional blocks to creativity.

1 comment:

Sarah Katherine Gray Art said...

Great things to think about. I agree there are some serious blocks and excuses to creating.