Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity

Everyone knows the term ‘writers’ block’ and perhaps to a lesser extent ‘artists’ block’. I guess you might have suffered it yourself on occasion. The trouble with these terms, for me, is the cliched images they conjure up: some lone writer, hands on keyboard and ready to produce their masterpiece. Or the artist pacing to and fro trying to force something to happen.

We’re talking creative constipation here – it’s in there but just won’t come out. (I feel a toilet theme approaching. Sincere apologies if I give in to it)

Now I’m not denying that writers’ and artists’ block of this kind happens and can cause much anguish. But it’s not helpful to think of it in such simple terms, because when it comes to things that stop us doing the creative things we want to do, there’s a marvellous variety for us to choose from. These blockages are often artistic concerns – but they’re also often just to do with life. Well… whichever – we like variety and given half a chance we’ll make full use of the lot of them.

In fact we can be infinitely creative in our choice of creative blockages. In this post I’m going to list the most obvious. As I add future posts I’ll look at ways we can get the better of the blockages and truly release your creative energies. But self awareness is always the best first step, so here we go.

Creative Blockages – an incomplete list

Clarity – lack of

This is a huge one and I’ll spend a lot of time on this in future posts. Lack of clarity comes in various forms and most of them are damaging. Now before I get loads of mail about this, I said most, not all. I do recognise that there are times that a certain lack of clarity is actually the wellspring of creativity.

But lack of understanding of what your art is about, or what you goals are, or how you work best can all impede creative quality and productivity. It’s a vision thing.

Too Creative!

I’m not sure you can be too creative. But it can certainly bring problems if you never get to explore one great idea because you get distracted with the next one, and the one after that. Face it – if you want success, you may never explore all your great ideas.


There are lots of reasons why we deny ourselves permission to follow our creative instincts fully. It can seem frivolous, selfish, childish, indulgent – the list could go on for ever. Simply giving yourself permission to be any or all of these can make a spectacular difference.


Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of goals – I’ve seen this a few times, but figuring out which kind of goals scare you and which set you on fire is the key here. Fear of ridicule. Fear of peer judgement. I could go on.

Negative/Limiting Beliefs

This is about perception – how we perceive ourselves, our place in the world and the way the world treats us. Our negative perceptions blind us to opportunities and lead us to self-sabotage. They can make us feel like a victim or deny the talent that everyone sees but ourselves.

Negative beliefs can finish us – but you can swap them for positive ones if you want. I can think of no reason whatever why you’d want to keep them.

Other People

Other people put pressure on you. They may not share your vision or support you. They may have other plans for your time. You may feel intimidated by their success – creative or otherwise.


You can be surrounded by loving, supportive friends and family, yet still feel isolated if they don’t understand your creativity or artistic direction. Finding like-minded people is liberating.


Life in all its glory and excitement and all its pressure and drudgery. If the life you live is a barrier to the creativity you’re bursting to express, then managing, planning and compromising could be the answer. It’s amazing sometimes how tiny changes can have wonderfully positive outcomes.

The key message here is that you should become aware of the size and nature of your creative blockages. Doing so may feel daunting, but it’s the first step to towards beating them. And just think of the work you’ll get done once you have.

Want to add other categories of blockage to the list? Your comments are welcome.

7 Responses to “Creative Blockages – 7 Killers of our Artistic and Creative Potential”

  1. 1 jerrysmithkc

    I agree with all these potential blocks and the one that particularly resonates is “too creative”. In my practice I find that clients are often hugely resourceful, creative and enthusiastic as well as very skilled at what they do. Often what is lacking is a clear idea of what they are ultimately trying to achieve.

    Due to natural curiosity and energy they keep trying new things that appear interesting and stimulating. As you say, this can lead to flitting between things and not finishing stuff.

    From my personal experience, having a goal in mind allows us to look at new ideas and decide:
    a) It doesn’t fit our vision
    b) The time isn’t right to pursue it
    c) We need to revise our vision

    This may sound like stiffling our creativity but actually I think it can lead us to focussing our energy on things that really move us forward.

    Looking forward to hearing more thoughts in this area

  2. 2 asleigh

    Thanks for that, Jerry.

    Interesting that you picked that point out as it’s probably the one I’ve suffered from most. I think that sometimes it’s having the ideas that gives me the real buzz. Actually taking an idea and making it into something can seem much less exciting – though much more rewarding in the long run.

  3. 3 graham.a

    The concept of limiting beliefs is one that I find very confusing. I believe I’ll never be smart enough to be a brain surgeon, or athletic enough to be an olympic high jumper. There are realistic limits on everyone’s capabilities, and I think anyone who desn’t have some sense of what they’ll never achieve is a bit of a dreamer. OK, there are areas of life where I feel I could achieve more, but even so, is there any sense at all in believing that I can do anything I set my mind on?

    There are far too many Americans who are indoctrinated with this kind of belief, and they constantly set themselves up for failure. You only have to watch American Idol to witness the despair when someone (usually Simon Cowell) tells some kid who’s parents have given them unrealistic expectations (even though they have no talent whatsoever) that they should give up any thoughts of a vocal career. They can, of course, continue to sing for their own amusement, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but a good dose of limiting belief would have been good for them!

  4. 4 jerrysmithkc

    Hey Graham, great point and one that I wrestle with too.

    You are right – I will (sadly) never be able to beat Roger Federer and so attempting to do that might seem to be setting myself up for failure. However what if I believe that I can get close to him as a player? Still not likely?

    How about being the best in my club? The best in Kansas City? What I am doing is believing that I can be a great tennis player and can always get better. Therefore I am driven to find my limits and maybe surpass what I ever thought I could achieve.

    Ultimately there is a good chance that I will run into a Simon Cowell at some stage. We all have to accept our limitations eventually, but at least the contestents on American Idol got as far as the audition, TV etc. How many folks (some of whom could have done really well) sat at home and didn’t apply because they thought “I don’t have what it takes”?

    Interesting post – lots of food for discussion!

  5. 5 Andrew Leigh

    Hi Graham

    Yes – there’s a definite point where positive thinking turns into delusional thinking, and American Idol has given us many fine examples of it.

    I think one way of understanding the difference between a negative, limiting belief and a positive, empowering one is this: with a limiting belief we perceive our ability and potential to be far lower than they actually are. As a result we may become discouraged and give up on a dream very easily – that’s if we even try in the first place.

    A healthy empowering belief gives us the courage to imagine and go for truly inspiring goals – and gives us the determination to make amazing achievements. But it definitely isn’t about a blind and deluded belief in abilities we haven’t got.

  6. 6 Andrew Leigh

    Talking about delusions – I definitely believe I can beat Roger Federer – but I’ll need to think creatively to figure out what I can beat him at/with. ;-)

  7. 7 esp

    Ussually I only get artists block right after some massive emotional shake up (typically traumatic for myself or those around me) of course for me those tend to go away if I just sleep them off. I get writters block more often than artists block but that’s mostly because of nerological reasons I’d rather not go into.

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