“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” ~Ray Bradbury
I recently came across the above quote while I was searching for inspiring quotes about creativity.
When I read this quote, it clicked with me. Quite often I think, plan, make to do lists, research … What I’m really doing is procrastinating. I’m putting off writing a blog post because I don’t feel inspired to write. I put off making a new craft because I have to search for supplies. I put off a task I don’t want to do or am overwhelmed by and instead tell myself that I need to look up something or plan something.
Author and creativity expert Julia Cameron explains that creating should not be a difficult process of thinking something up; instead it is a way of “getting something down” and doing so without strain.
This sounds like a state of flow to me. When you start to do something and get into a state of flow, then you are working on a subconscious level and don’t think. You simply do things.
That is really what I think Mr. Bradbury and Ms. Cameron are talking about here: achieving a state of flow.
When you are in a state of flow, the ideas come to you without thought or any conscious effort at all. You would be working for 10 minutes of 10 hours — you don’t know because you are on a different level of consciousness.
10 Ways to Overcome Creativity Blocks and Achieve Flow
1. Write in my journal. I just write without editing or thinking about what I’m writing. I don’t expect anyone to read it and I don’t judge what I wrote. I just write. I do this each morning and any other time I feel like I need it.
Not a writer? It doesn’t matter. This works for anyone.
Resource: Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages
2. If I feel stuck creativity with jewelry-making, I try a different artistic endeavor. I paint. Or I’ll even make jewelry, but I’ll make something else – a purely fun piece just for myself.
I’ll change my mindset that I’m just playing and it’s not “work.”
3. Turn off distractions. (TV, computer, phone)
4. Turn on some music that energizes you.
5. Go outside into nature. Get in the sun. If you can’t get outside, look at photos of nature.
6. Go on an Artist Date (also from Julia Cameron.)
Resource: Artist Date
From Julia Cameron’s website: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” – think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. The encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When Choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” – and then allow yourself to try it.”
7. Forget about perfection. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, sounds like, etc. Just keep going. You will improve or you can fix it if you want to later. Or maybe you’ll realize that it is perfect as it is.
Just keep doing!
8. If you start to doubt your creativity (I hear it all the time!) remember, Pablo Picasso told us that “every child is an artist.” Even if you don’t feel like one right now, you were one at one time. You’ll find it again.
9. Go for a walk, dance or get moving in some way.
10. Know yourself. You know when you’re most productive and when you’re more sluggish. I’m most productive in the early morning or late evening, but I have difficulty concentrating or getting any major creative work done in the afternoons.
How To Know When You’re In Flow
Once you’re in flow, you probably won’t notice it because you’ll – well – be in flow! However, here are some ways to recognize it:
- Happiness. You’re enjoying what you’re doing and you’re happy.
- Loss of Time. You’re so into what you are doing that you do not notice time. You look at the clock and realize that 2 hours have gone by, but you feel like it’s been on a few minutes.
- Forget About Sleep and/or Hunger. You miss meals or stay up late. (Be careful and don’t do this too often!)
- Confidence. You’re not worried about failing or perfection. You’re confident and you’re in a subconscious state of mind.