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Break the cycle of creative block

So, today I did a live training on the cycle that causes creative block (and how to break it, of course!)

In it, I shared an exercise to help you get really clear on your own cycle of creative block.

This is the kind of thing I’m doing in my brand new Artist in Action Facebook group. If you want in, join us here!

I’ll continue to share my articles about doing your creative work here, but there’ll be interaction and special trainings over in the Facebook group.

Training: Break the cycle of creative block

(Watch the video where I take you through the training!)

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Oh, procrastination and avoidance and resistance!! The scourge of writers and artists everywhere.

You’ve been in the dread cycle, right? Avoidance… leads to guilt… and shame… and then more avoidance. Around and around, killing your novel, your song cycle, your creative project. Not to mention your creative career!!

Do you want out? You CAN get out, you know. 

Let’s get started. 

First, let’s take a look at exactly what a cycle of creative block looks like. This is the first step to getting OUT of the cycle.

As an example, here’s one of mine: 

(Note: I was working on a story set in 19th century China)

  1. My inner voice: This scene has to be a lot more complex. I’m not getting at these people’s inner lives. And would they be thinking this way in China in 1842? 
  2. How I feel: Anxious. Pressured. Slightly overwhelmed.
  3. My reaction: Pick up a history book to research the time/place in question. Feel overwhelmed again, and anxious that my writing will stop while I do more research.
  4. My inner voice: Oh, god. This is going to take so long. I’m going to have to read this book, and that one, and it’s going to take a week of my writing time, and I probably won’t even find what I’m looking for.
  5. My feelings: More anxious. More pressured. Slightly despairing.
  6. My reaction: Put down the book. Click away to read the news to relieve my tension. Avoid my writing my reading the news for the next hour.
  7. My inner voice: Look at you. Time is precious. You’ve got a family. I can’t believe you wasted that hour. You have to get back to it. You’re going to lose the day. You’re never going to get anything done. No wonder you’re a failure.
  8. My feelings: Guilt. Shame. Defiance. 
  9. My reaction: Avoid the feelings and relieve the tension by reading another article.
  10. My inner voice: What is the matter with you?????!!!

Etc. (You get the idea!)

Now let’s look at what YOUR shame cycle looks like. This is the first step to getting OUT of that cycle.

Take a moment to do this. If you experience any kind of procrastination or block, it’s going to really help you start getting out of that… so you can have the creative career you want.

Exercise: Uncover your “creative block” cycle

Think of a moment that you stop writing/ making music/ making art/ choreographing/ doing your creative work. Imagine that time slows way down until it stops in that moment.

Pay attention to what you’re feeling and thinking in this moment. Especially notice any negative voices or feelings.

  1. What do you say to yourself at this moment?
  2. How do you feel at this moment?
  3. How do you react (what do you DO when you have this thought or feeling)?

Then we follow the cycle.

4. What do you say to yourself after you have that reaction?

5. How do you feel when you hear those words?

6. What do you do in reaction?

7. What does your internal voice say after you have that reaction?

8. How do you feel?

9. What do you do in reaction?

Etc.

This is your cycle of creative block.

Pretty awful, right? With that going on, no wonder it’s hard to do your art!

But, here’s the thing: That cycle is NOT THE TRUTH. It’s just your conditioning. 

It’s the soundtrack that got installed somewhere deep in your past.

It updates to fit each situation, but it’s the soundtrack you’ve been playing over and over your whole life.

Now, you can break that cycle and shut that soundtrack down.

You can do it at any point in the cycle: 

  • By changing your inner voice–so it stops with the soul-withering criticism and starts offering encouragement and support instead.
  • By feeling your feelings, and offering yourself compassion (crucial for getting out of the shame spiral!). 
  • By pausing before you react… and choosing to take an action that breaks the shame cycle–and advances your career instead.

When I work with clients, they learn how to break the cycle at EACH of these points. 

It isn’t always easy (those cycles can be persistent!), but over time, they really GET IT. They shift their reactions, their feelings, and their actions. They internalize a new way of being.

And, they create a NEW cycle: one of momentum, confidence, and creativity.

With that new cycle comes amazing results:

They DO their creative work, regularly and easily. 

They have the courage to take the big steps. 

They break through the emotional obstacles that are hurting their technique. (Yes, that’s a real thing–more on that in another post!)

And ultimately, they get big results in their creative careers.

What does this mean? 

Exhibitions. Published articles. Recognition at major film festivals. Agents. Awards. Money. And so much more….

Want some of that for yourself? Email me and let me know!

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