On Creativity Bottlenecks

A professor once told his class, "we don't get stuck from having no ideas, but from having too many." 

I realized, my mind churns and spins with ideas at an alarming rate. If I don't get them out fast enough, they build up and bottleneck the whole creative processes. I become overwhelmed at the sheer number of ideas and end up doing none of them, which then discourages me. 

The professor told the class the solution to this problem though, "pick something and go with it. Don't think about it. Just do it. Then go on to the next."

Can it really can be that simple? Yes.

By picking one idea and running with it, momentum is created. The idea will either take off and fly or crash into the ground and be dragged through the mud, but forward progress has been made either way. This is the key to break through bottlenecks.

What if it fails?

What if it falls flat?

What if it is lame?

We need to give ourselves permission to fail, to fall flat, and to be lame because it will give us confidence to create. We also need to give ourselves permission to succeed, to inspire, and to be authentic because it is possible. 

So I am giving myself permission to follow through, on one idea at a time, because in the end I need to create or I will explode.  

Do you ever experience creative bottlenecks?

Creative Spaces

Creative spaces are a very personal thing. It is where worlds are created and the abstract becomes something tangible. It can be the kitchen table or an entire room devoted to your craft. Here are a few things I prefer for my creative space:

• A large desk 
This gives me space to spread out papers and still have room for my keyboard and mouse.

• A book shelf
I enjoy having books at my fingertips and bookshelves are one of the most aesthetically pleasing ways to do this.

• Blank paper
I always go back and forth on whether to have lined paper or completely blank. I have found that I much prefer the blank. I like to draw and work organically and feel limited when I use lined paper.

• A Nerf gun
This is mainly to deter any interruptions and cats. 

• A computer
Writing and video editing requires me to use a desktop for most of my work. I currently work with four monitors.

• Sharp pointy objects
I have always liked knives and swords. My wife and I took a German longsword class and we both enjoyed it immensely. 

What does your creative space look like? What items do you find necessary?

The Creative

During the holidays as my family was sitting around the living room talking, we started to talk about creativity. My family consists of a professional photographer, a musician, a writer, a boat builder/writer, a crafter, a marine/mechanic, a sailor, and etc… we are a quirky bunch. We agreed that creativity is something that is inherent to all of us. It is literally built into each and everyone of us. Creativity is not just for the traditional artists who paint, draw, and sculpt. Creativity is built into everyone from the cashier at your grocery store to the high powered lawyer.

A person is, fundamentally, someone who needs to create. When a person does not create, it can lead to feeling unfulfilled, disheartened, or antsy.

I have definitely felt the uneasiness and antsy feeling that comes from not creating anything for long periods of time. It is almost debilitating, but once I engage my creative engine with a book, start a project, or take a walk, I come alive again. I can see the world around me again and start to take notice of other things that inspire me. I have found that I am truly happy when I am creating.

My sister-in-law gave a good piece of advice during our discussion. When creativity levels are low you should not only start a project, but finish one. It can be small, but the simple act of finishing a project will inspire and spark more creativity.

I could not agree with her more.

Creativity is an interesting thing. The more you use it, the more there is. The more you give away, the more you get. The only time it runs dry is when you decide to stop making things.

Do you get antsy when you are not creating? Would you consider yourself creative?

The Desire to Create

As a creative type, I need to create something with my own two hands to be happy. It is something that is hardwired into my brain. It does not matter what it is, but I need the outlet for that creativity or else I start to get antsy. The danger comes when I go long periods without an act of creation. I no longer see the details and interesting bits in the world around me. I retreat into my own mind and it limits my ability to see what is going on around me. I stop observing and listening because my mind starts to focus too much on itself. I find that my creativity and inspiration comes from the outside world and when I don't create, I start to build a wall isolates me from my creativity and inspiration.

My wife recently brought this to my attention near the end of May. I had not made a video blog since the last day of April. In fact I had not created anything since then. She mentioned that I seemed a lot more involved when I was trying to find things to make videos about and she missed the excitement of discovery I had everyday during April. Her comment brought me back to reality and I decided to tear down that wall I had been building, hence my recent vlog post and this blog post.

The act of creation grounds me in reality and opens my eyes to the world around me.

Do you have a desire to create? How does the act of creation affect you?

Moleskine Muse

I have a muse. She lives in a Moleskine notebook that goes with me everywhere. She keeps me sane. My Moleskine muse revealed herself to me during a Night Before Christmas poetry contest my in-laws hold every year. We all rewrite the poem "Twas the night before Christmas" and read them on Christmas eve. One year I had nothing. Not a blip of action on the proverbial radar of creativity.

I could not even come up with a theme for my poem, so I wrote a short story to get my creative juices flowing. I am a fiction writer, not a poet. So, I let go and just wrote whatever came to mind. My muse revealed herself as the main character of a story, much to my surprise. I had never really thought much of muses. She introduced herself as A-musing and asked for a pair of socks. So, I gave the muse her socks and she has been around ever since.

Now, whenever I am stuck, her antics always give me something to write about. Recently, she moved into my Moleskine notebook that I carry with me everywhere. She is a constant (very constant) reminder to write down ideas and observations as I go through my day. She has spunk and keeps humor in my day and in my writing

My Moleskine is now the catch-all of creative inspiration and story ideas, carefully curated by A-Musing.

Here is a list of some of the things A-Musing helps me keep track of in my Moleskine:

• Story Ideas • Short scenes • Taglines • Observations • Outlines • Quotes • Doodles • Dialogs

A-Musing has become the curator of creativity in my notebook and I would not have it any other way.

Do you have a notebook to catch your thoughts? Do you have a muse that helps you write? What do you write in your notebook?