|Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity|
Understanding Your Creative Block Through Metaphor
I saw an interesting post about writers’ block over at Whimblog, where artist William H Miller struck a blow against his creative block by making artistic image of it. He used the play on words to make an actual creative ‘block’.
I wondered whether you could take this one step further and visualize your artist’s or writer’s block more metaphorically. It turned out to be something of a personal revelation.
Artists’ Block Metaphorical Visualization
The key here is not to get hung up on that word ‘block’. So you are aiming not to take it literally, but instead to transform your feelings and experience of the artist’s block as an imaginative, metaphorical visualization.
There are two important gains from creatively imagining your block:
- It gets you being creative again (I use the term visualization, but you can render your metaphor in your own artistic form)
- It gives you profound insight into the nature of your block
For instance, when I get writers’ block it typically comes in two distinct forms.
The Build-up of Pressure
My own experience of this one feels like there is a genuine blockage in my creative system right at the moment of production. I’ve had the ideas and I’ve worked on them, developed them, made notes, done research – but simply cannot get started on the actual writing.
There are lots of ways you might visualise this – for me it’s like a volcano (I’ve mentioned this in my very first posting); I’m smoking, growling and popping with ever more intensity – you know how volcanoes can get a tad grouchy before they let loose – well, yes- that’s me. Of course, when the creative eruption finally comes it tends not to be fire and brimstone but a more benign outflow. I’m not sure how to visualize it – sort of flowery and beautiful yet urgent and edged.
Another way I visualise this is like a flawed superhero –
I know this particular writers’ block quite well and these days have learned to accept it as part of my own creative process.
The Living Maze
I haven’t felt this kind of block for a while. A bit nightmarish really, because the maze is shifting and blocking and I’m lost inside it. Although my maze has traditional hedging it’s also made up of faces and noises, buildings and cars and crossroads. The faces are large and oddly, friendly – genuinely friendly – welcoming and warm.
I’ve never visualized this block before – in fact I’m building the visualization as I write and it’s becoming very revealing to me. And that’s the real biggie in doing this kind of artists’ block visualization – you get surprising insights and can make some very useful interpretations of your metaphor. I’ll leave you to make your own interpretations of my maze as I feel it’s getting a little to personal to share – sorry.
Develop Your Metaphor and Visualize Your Resolution
Having visualized your block and taken whatever insights are available, the next thing is to visualize a resolution to it. For me as Volcano Man (yes I have two writers’ block super hero identities) it’s down to giving him time and space to let off the steam of frustration and allow things to bubble and form till he’s ready to blow. These days I can almost enjoy this process – not sure if my other half does though.
As for the maze, I can see it opening up – organizing itself into a more orderly – no – scratch that… the maze isn’t organizing itself, I’m organizing it. I’m picking up the blocks and shifting them around. They’re still there for me, and in my mind’s eye they’re not what you’d ever describe as regimented, but they give me space and a passage through. And those faces are still smiling – even the buildings are smiling.
Everything’s smiling – it’s a happy, messy maze that I see. Yes, it is still a maze, but a maze with open ground and places to rest and be alone to do my creative thing. I actually feel happy with this kind of maze; it’s a maze that suits me very well.
You know what? I said earlier that I haven’t felt this block for a while and now I realize that’s simply not true. With all the events surrounding Lynda’s ongoing illness and trying to earn a living at the same time I recognize that this block is with me now.
Wow. When I began writing this post I had no idea it would be quite so personally instructive.
So What is Your Artists’ Block Metaphor?
So what is it for you? A swamp or quicksand? A river that’s been dammed to form a massive lake of creative turbulence? A pulsating steam engine with a blocked valve? A lung searing, impenetrable smog?
Work your own visualization up and express it in your own creative form – paint, sing, play or dance your own artists’ block. Digitalize it, photograph it, write it.
Do any of those and you get to be creative again! And you get valuable self awareness to recognize the causes and if you want to, deal with them.
Share Your Visualizations
Id love for you to share your own creative block visualizations in the comments below. So please add your version – and if that’s now, in a year’s time or whenever, that’s fine. If you have an image or other representation of your block that you want to share, then put a link or url with your comment.
Let’s find out just how inspiring our artists’ and writers’ blocks can be.
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Here are some of the many posts about creative blocks – please search the site to find more:
Creative Blockages – 7 Killers of our Artistic and Creative Potential
Perfectionism – a Creative and Artistic Straight-Jacket – and How to Escape it
How Life Changes and Breaks can cause Creative Paralysis
Falling off the Horse
7 Tips to Shock You Out of Your Creative Rut