Breaking Through the Block

Many content creators, regardless of the type of content they make – be it a book, blog, movie, podcast or otherwise – experience from time to time what feels like a complete blackout when it comes to being inspired with ideas.

They may plan for the whole day to sit down at a scheduled time to focus on the task of generating content, but when faced with the blank slate in front of them, they have nothing to produce.

Commonly known as ‘Writer’s Block’, Wikipedia¬†describes it as:

“…A condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author is unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. This creative stall is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills. The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.”

Being faced with a blank canvas may be daunting, we often imagine the works of famous artists or writers superimposed onto it, setting ourselves an impossible standard that renders all else inadequate. We consign ourselves to defeat ourselves before we even begin.

So how does one escape this empty, monotonous prison?

Diving In

In his book, ‘The Courage to Create’, Rollo May says the following:

“Imagination is casting off mooring ropes, taking one’s chances that there will be new mooring posts in the vastness ahead.”

Here May teaches us that for one to utilise and extract ideas from the depths of our minds, it is necessary to indulge one’s self into our work by taking the first initial step, a step of faith that means once we remove our safety nets, we will summon the courage within to scale the seemingly insurmountable. It is only by taking affirmative action that we can begin to extract the fruits of creativity from our souls.

By taking the initial step, we place trust in our unconscious ability, we place our trust in the belief that we have what it takes to produce what we desire, and that we have the talent to do so.

Could we imagine if the likes of Columbus did not strive towards his dream of reaching the Far East via new route? How different would the world be (for better or worse) had his curiosity remained lame? How many accumulate ideas and inventions yet bring none to fruition for fear of the task before them, not knowing that all perceived obstacles would dissipate as they are advanced towards?

For Columbus, it was his action, his literal un-mooring of the ropes tying him to land that led Europe to discover new lands previously unknown to them.

Build Upon Something

Just as gold from a mine is not extracted with wishful thinking, neither is a work produced by being too cautious to take pen to paper. Mistakes will be made, entire drafts may be binned. But it is but part of the process.

Once you begin your task, you will inevitably find and iterate upon whatever you have until you find your stride. In order to have something you are happy with, you must start from something, no matter how small. After all – can something come from nothing? This is a proposition that only an ignorant person would expect.

Once your pen is put to paper, it is as though a circuit is completed and energy begins to move, juices begin to flow and ideas start to form. By merely starting, you have attacked the enemy of doubt and its strength is cut down with every stroke of the pen.

It is as the poet James Thompson said:

“Speak the commanding word ‘I will!’ and it is done.”

Next time you feel yourself daunted by the thought of the act of putting pen to paper (literal or otherwise), take solace in the fact that it is both the act of starting and the belief in the possibilities that lay ahead which will culminate in the birth of your work.

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