Creativity sometimes seems like it’s out of our hands. It seems like the creative spark sometimes visits us, making us boundlessly creative and imaginative, and sometimes just goes away, making us feel as if we can’t come up with even a single new idea.
There are a few reasons for this. One of them is momentum. In science, the concept of moment means that all objects have mass, so if an object is moving then it is said to have momentum. Even after any external force stops being applied on it, the object may still continue to move due to accumulated momentum.
In the same way, we need to build up momentum ourselves in our creative endeavors. Yes, taking a break is important as well to ensure we don’t get exhausted or burnt out, but if we stay away for too long, we run the risk of losing all of our acquired momentum and having to build it up from scratch once more.
One way to maintain our creative momentum is to continue being creative in some way, no matter what. Even if we take a break from work, we can indulge in some other hobby that lets us keep our creative spark burning, such as writing.
“Throughout human history, in any great endeavour requiring the common effort of many nations and men and women everywhere, we have learned – it is only through seriousness of purpose and persistence that we ultimately carry the day. We might liken it to riding a bicycle. You stay upright and move forward so long as you keep up the momentum.”
– Ban Ki-moon
Another obstacle that might stop creativity in its tracks is the fear of seeming unoriginal. But this is also a red herring, because in a way nothing is truly original. Everything is derived from something else, and always has been since the beginning of time. When doing something creative we always draw on our life experiences and the content we have consumed, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.
There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination
they produce more hues than can ever been seen.
There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of
them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.”
― Sun Tzu
When we try very hard to be creative, sometimes even the strong desire can get in the way of the act itself. We may become too desperate for creativity and keep chasing it around like a dog chasing its own tail, without ever finding it.
“First, creativity is mysterious. No one knows how it works. With athletic ability, for instance, we at least know it's strengthened by good diet and physical activity. Creativity seems to be strengthened by soda, chocolate, and lying in a hammock for hours on end. Though books on creativity abound, how it works remains a mystery to most of us.
Also, creativity is elusive. As every writer knows, if you sit down at your desk every day at 10, some days you'll "feel" creative and other days you won't. But if you just start creating, often you'll become creative, in spite of your creativity.
One of the main reasons creativity seems so hard is that we desire it so much. When you really want to "be creative," it's hard to see that what you're doing IS creative. It may seem derivative, boring, or just not very good, when in fact it's quite creative. Maybe not quite what you want, but creative.
And creativity is special. People (most people) look on creativity as something that people have that sets them apart and makes them different, and sometimes better, at least in some ways, than other people.
But what I think is THE primary reason creativity seems so hard is that few people believe they're creative. To that I say, "Nonsense!" Every human being on this earth is creative. We all create, every day, all day long. If you've ever altered a recipe, come up with an idea to increase sales at your company, planted a garden...you're creative.
I know it seems hard sometimes, but hang in there, please, and keep being creative. It's important, not just to you, but to the people who benefit from what you create. And I say that especially to the people who would define themselves as "not creative," because some of our greatest creators, some of our most exciting innovations, come from you, and our world would be a poorer place without them.”
- Angie Dixon
Creative blocks can sometimes just arise out of nowhere. We must also have a system to deal with these blocks. We cannot just sit around and hope they will go away. We must actively manage them with specific tools or techniques.
Creative blocks can come in many forms. We may just feel too lazy to engage in something creative. In such a case, we can bust this block by compelling ourselves to be active and engage ourselves fully with something. Another type of creative block is where we might feel uninspired, like there are no ideas popping up in our heads at all. There are specific tools designed for this purpose as well, which are designed to reignite our inspiration based on time-tested methods and theories relating to creativity.
“All of our days are numbered; we cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it. Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand and pray will not be extinguished by all the storm that howls about it. If you can hold on to that flame great things can be constructed around it that are massive and powerful and world changing – all held up by the tiniest of ideas.”
― Nick Cave
Finally, we must keep in mind that even though creativity can seem difficult, it is actually quite easy. Once we push the distractions out of the way and get into a true flow state, nothing can get in the way of our creativity!