Like the terror of the blank page for an artist or writer, the prospect of a new year living with a raging pandemic is daunting. And paralyzing. We don't want to go! Like opening a cat-stuffed mailbox, it sure is hard to make yourself pull on that door handle and just open the door, because you know what's coming!
And that's where the metaphor breaks down, because the creative person suffering from a creative block could just throw up their hands in defeat. Maybe they could take up plumbing or get a desk job. But for all of us entering the scary new year, we really don't have a choice ... we're going whether we like it or not!
However, perhaps we can learn a few things from those die hard creatives who know they won't be satisfied fixing pipes or pushing paper around. The creatives who can push through the paralysis. The ones who don't give up. The ones we can be inspired by, who can teach us not to give up either.
If you've read my article On Being Creative, you know that creatives have a "pony" – another metaphor! – that is all that raw, wonderful raging energy that flows through them, just begging to be expressed and released through through a creative process. Artists have to art, writers have to write, musicians and sculptors have to music and sculpt. It's the way they're built.
All that energy has to be reined in and managed to be useful. Ponies can run wild and about the only thing they'll create is chaos if not managed well.
But a creative block is the opposite problem ... a pony that won't go! What are you going to do with THAT?
No amount of prodding, pushing, pulling, begging, or pleading will make that pony go. Like laying down on your bed at night and ordering your body to go to sleep, it's not happening. And the harder you try, the more elusive the sleep. I suspect our pony has a touch of mule in him.
So just forget about him ... in fact, forget entirely what you're trying to make happen. Instead pick up that pencil/pen/brush/keyboard or whatever and just start.
If you're an artist, pick your favorite color and just start making marks on a page. Lines, strokes, brush marks ... just enjoy the feel of your chosen medium in your hand ... don't try to make something happen ... play ... be an observer and see what will happen ...
If you're a writer, don't try to dream up something to write about ... just write! Whatever random thoughts enter your head. Perhaps write down why you love to write. Describe the scene you can see from your window. If you look out your window and see someone, write down where they're going. Who will they meet? What will they do? Are they related? Do they like each other? Play with and follow your thoughts and write them down ...
And you know what will happen? Remember your stubborn, immoveable pony? The one that wouldn't move no matter how much you poked and prodded? He's definitely stubborn, but he's nosey, too. And you're going to stir up his curiosity. He's going to come peek over your shoulder. He'll read the words you're writing. He'll see the color, lines and forms on the page. He's going to get stirred up ... and suddenly that block will melt away, the paralysis loosens up and you're off riding again! Just like that!
Creatives are the most blessed people on the planet, because creativity can't be forced. Successful creatives have learned this and know how to relax and "play" and get things flowing again. Creativity – and life – stops when you get all tensed up! And that's a great life lesson that can benefit anyone who's willing to learn.
If you find yourself on the outside of the door to 2021, trying to work up what it's going to take to face what's on the other side, just go for it! Unlike a painting or a story, it's going to come anyway. And like the cat-stuffed mailbox, there might be an explosion and some trauma headed our way ... but there'll be much more damage if we're frozen in our tracks.
Whether you consider yourself a "creative" in the traditional sense or not, we are all creative. It's built into us. It's built into life. Life throws us problems and challenges, and we respond with solutions and resolution. This is life stuff. And it's story stuff. Because the stories we write and illusrate come out of real life.
So shake off any fear and paralysis that has you in its grip, and let's go bravely into this new year. In fact, we'll turn a bad situation on its head and make it work for us and not against us ... see you next week!