Unlock Your Creativity During Lockdown
What’s a creative’s worst nightmare? Yep, you guessed it – the blank sheet of paper, the brick wall, the writer’s block. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a bad place for any creative to find themselves in, particularly when a deadline is looming.
But what if I told you there is a secret to avoiding this type of situation, not completely – because that would be impossible, but most of the time? Well, if you’re interested then read on…
I would say at least 90% of the time the number one cause of a creative block is stress. It could be stress about meeting a deadline, it could be stress about work or life in general, it could be stress about the creative piece or problem that you’re faced with. Whichever way you look at, when it comes to generating ideas, stress can be huge blocker. But why is that?
Just think about it – When was the last time when you came up with your best ideas? Was it in the shower, or the drive home from work, sat out in the garden, or was it at your desk? More than likely, I’m expecting you to say every other option except your desk. And the reason for that is, when you’re at your desk, unless you’re a fairly calm and chilled out person by nature, you’re more likely to get yourself wound up.
In most people’s experience, I would say the desk often means distraction. Unless you’ve got your own office in which you can lock yourself away for some quiet time, there are always interruptions. And those interruptions themselves can become a source of stress if you let them.
During this lockdown, we’re all suffering some stress or the other – whether it’s related to the pandemic, or home schooling the kids, or just that sense of being confined with no place to go. Whatever the stress, it can become a creative blocker if you don’t know how to deal with it effectively. So here are a few helpful insights from my own experience, that I hope will help you unblock and unlock your creativity during this challenging time and be able to deal with the situation better:
1) Learn to focus on the now
Often, we’re so preoccupied with our own thought process, either we live in the past or the future, but are never present to actually what is occurring right now. Whether it’s a posture, the breath, or even an idea – to be totally present to what you are doing in the moment, will help develop the clarity that will allow ideas to emerge. To perform every action no matter how small or insignificant with conscious attention, automatically leads to more mental balance simply because the mind is not being distracted. This frees up more creative energy. They say an ‘idle mind is the devil’s workshop’ – well it can be if you allow yourself to live in the past or the future. Better to attend fully to what is now and then you won’t need to worry about the future, because it’ll automatically take care of itself.
2) Make some time for you
Whilst in lockdown, this may sound like it’s easy, but I’m pretty sure if you’re a parent (especially of youngish children), you’re probably even busier than you are normally. But it’s important to find some time for yourself. My way of doing it, is getting up before anyone else. Getting up early is a discipline and can be hard, but if you put the time to good use, then it can make you feel ready to tackle the day with a sense of ease. My time in the morning is spent doing Yoga. What has Yoga got to do with creativity you may be asking? Well quite a lot as it happens. The word Yoga means ‘union’. In practical terms I like to think that Yoga brings a certain level of integration within mind and body. Something that I’ve found over the years, is that in order get the best out of yourself creatively, you have to find a state of internal balance. Too much stress and you get blocked, too little energy and ideas won’t flow. There’s a particular balance of mind that’s required that’s neither too lax, nor too energised. To achieve this balance isn’t always easy (there is a certain knack to it), but Yoga is one of the tools that I’ve found that has really helped me to find that knack. Does it mean you’ll never get stressed, frustrated or upset? No, but it will help you deal with these things better and return to a state of balance faster. And over the long term with continued practice, the benefits of a regular yoga or meditative practice can bring many other benefits to your life (the ability to not allow stress to block your creativity being one of them!).
3) Don’t focus on the problem (too much)
We all know that generating ideas is almost always about solving some kind of problem. But what about when the problem you’re trying to solve itself becomes a problem? Well, look at it this way, when coming up with ideas, yes of course you need to consider the problem you’re trying to find a solution for, but at the same time you shouldn’t feel too constrained by it. At some level your mind needs to be free to find inspiration, explore and then focus. You need to start big and then narrow things down, because if you start narrow, you’ll end up with a very one dimensional solution, that may meet the brief, but ends up being very unoriginal and uninspiring. Rather than think within the constraints of the problem, think around it. Do some research around the broader topic, look for some inspiration from what others have done, get outside and go for a walk if necessary. Because to grow a beautiful flower, you shouldn’t be thinking ‘flower, flower, flower’ – you should be thinking ‘soil, light, moisture’. In the same way, to generate a great idea, you should be setting up the conditions for that idea to emerge. And if you do that work well, just like a flower it will.
To sum up, lockdown doesn’t have to be a time where you feel constrained by circumstances, but rather it can be an opportunity to set-up the right conditions inside and outside yourself that will help you unlock your creativity now and in the future.
Posted by Rosh.