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Stop creative blocks, never psychoanalyze what you create

There is a lot written about how to recover from writer’s block and every other kind of creative block, but very little has been written on how to prevent it. Here’s one cause of writer’s block you can be conscious of before it happens.

From the time we are very little, we are taught that art has hidden meanings and reveals things about us to clever observers. In fact, these days it’s possible to get kicked out of school for handing in a horror story for a creative writing assignment. The truth is very different. If writing a horror story indicated a tendency for violent behavior, wouldn’t the police interview Stephen King and Clive Barker every time there was a brutal killing?

Don’t judge what comes out while you create. Don’t worry about what other people will think. If you start down that path, it will be start a crippling block that will limit your creativity to creating Hallmark Cards and those terrible jokes in Reader’s Digest.

You are not what you create. What you create is not wish-fulfillment for how you feel the world should be. Better to let out the emotions you don’t want in your life in your art. Never look at what you’ve done and say, if I show this to anyone they’ll think I’m crazy or that I hate my mom or that I have huge anger issues.

There will always be people judging you based on what you create, but they all already think you’re weird for trying to create something in the first place. I find, often, that criticism reveals more about the preoccupations and fears of the critic than of the art they are criticizing.

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2 responses

  1. William Stafford, one of my favorite poets, once said, “If your standards were as low as mine are, you would never have writer’s block either.”
    Or, asked about the same subject later, he said, “I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance … One should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write. You just shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing.”

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