Unblocking the Stream

Each one of us has a creative mind. Whether you work a desk job or perform professionally, we are born with an innate sense of creativity and a longing to share it. Most of the time, this is suppressed as we grow up. Sometimes, it isn’t. Yet in those individuals who seek to develop and share their creativity, one problem will always arise:

Creative blocks.

Think of writers block. Everyone who seeks to be creative will experience a block like this, and might experience it often. And this makes sense; in order to create a piece of art, you must create something the world has never seen before, and that can be a very daunting task.

This doesn’t mean creating new building blocks. A songwriter doesn’t create any new notes. Instead, he takes the existing notes and arranges them in a fashion never before heard. Likewise, every author in the English language has been confined to the same 26 letters.

To arrange these blocks into a work of art, your creativity must flow freely. If it doesn’t, then it’s going to be awfully hard to take those 26 letters in the alphabet or 88 notes on a piano and make something the world has never seen. Think of creativity as water coming down a stream. When the stream is clear, it flows smoothly. When the stream inevitably gets blocked (which is in no way the stream’s fault), the water slows down and may even stop flowing. If a farmer relies on that flowing water, then she must unblock the stream; if an artist relies on flowing creativity, he must do the same.

How I unblock the stream

There isn’t one quick-fix for this, but here’s something that comes pretty close: daily journaling. No, not necessarily a diary, but a journal to record your stream-of-consciousness thinking.

It’s a simple exercise, but highly effective:

  1. Sit at a desk with your journal
  2. Begin writing whatever is on your mind. For example, I often begin with something like “I am now writing in my journal.” Don’t think of anything to write; write down what is already going through your head. The point is to simply take the thoughts that are naturally on your mind and put them on paper.
  3. Keep going! Write at least one page of this. Don’t look back at what you wrote, and don’t think about what you will write. Simply put your thoughts on paper without giving any effort to think. What you will find is that your thoughts start to take form. You will most likely dwell on one or two thoughts in this writing. I recommend writing 1-3 pages.
  4. Don’t share your journal. Don’t look back at your journal. Don’t allow anyone—including yourself—to judge your writing. The fear of being judged will hinder this wonderful process.

Why does this work? By allowing your thoughts to flow freely, you are “unblocking” the river of thoughts in your mind. Even if everything you write down is nonsense, you will find more ease in thinking throughout the rest of the day.

Journaling as a daily practice is an excellent way to develop a habit of thinking more creatively.

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