This winter I was in a creative rut.
Blocked—our culture has taught us to label ourselves when we can’t access our creativity—though I believe block is more about the culture eclipsing our truth than something inherently wrong with us.
We are creators and we are born to create. We are like rivers. The river is always flowing, but external obstacles can gum up the river—rocks, leaves, dams, trash. We hear of a thing called a creative breakthrough and we imagine one split second where the heavens part, our stuckness clears, and all of a sudden we a creative genius again.
In practice, the steps to catalyzing flow are often mundane, gradual, and relatively uncomplex. When committed to, however, the results can be profound.
Here are ten resources that helped me significantly clear the river this Spring, and I hope they can be helpful to you if you have been feeling blocked, stuck, plateaued, or uninspired:
I could spend hours on this site. The Etymology dictionary teaches us about the roots of words and their origins. Knowing words’ origins—like the root of courage is cor, meaning heart, and the root of confidence is confidere, meaning trust—are like windows into new lines of thinking and possibilites for finding new meaning.
My son Mateo and I have created a daily poetry ritual. What I mean by this is I go to the Poetry Foundation App while he tries to eat the phone, I spin the dial to find a new poem, and then I read the poem while he babbles loudly and continues to try to eat the phone.
It’s chaotic, but I’m convinced I’m raising a poetry lover for life.
There are few things more powerful than a good poem to catalyze my creative process, and I love the way this app helps me discover new gems. I also find poetry a most essential companion during times of transition. If you are struggling right now with the complexity of reentry into the world, I suggest you search for a poem or two to accompany your journey. A few recent favorites of mine: Meditations in an Emergency by Cameron Awkward-Rich, and A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou.
A few months ago, I realized that I was wasting massive amounts of time searching for things—ideas I thought I had written down but couldn’t find, correspondence, social media graphics I could have sworn I created, articles I remembered writing but had no clue where they lived. I tend to avoid organization projects because they felt non-urgent and like a waste of precious time that could be used for creating, but I realized that continuing to try to grow my creative work and business from disarray was proving impossible.
So I committed to organizing my digital workspace and setting myself up on a path of organization that I could stick to. Though the project has been largely boring and at times overwhelming, its impact on my mental clarity, ability to make decisions and creative flow has been profound.
Some of the ways I am using these tools to support my creative process:
- I block out time on my google calendar, in a calendar labeled CREATOR, and in a bright yellow color. I don’t just write “creation” or “write,” but whenever possible, I write whatever project I plan to be working on during that time.
- I organized my google drive into folders that make sense to me, and I set up titling rules that I am attempting to follow (so hard for a person who loves to reinvent the rules every time). I created a Shared Drive for my business so every time we bring on new team members I don’t have to keep sending them individual documents and folders.
- I set up Google Keep on my phone so that I can take notes (often using the voice to text feature since I am usually holding a baby) and keep track of ideas when they come to me. (Instead of writing them in places like text messages that I tend to lose track of).
- I got my inbox to zero. This is not necessarily what everyone needs, but for me, this was life-changing. Now that I no longer have to worry about whether or not I have responded to an email, I can turn my attention toward other things. (One of our Collective members Katherine McClintic offers beautiful thoughts on how to keep our inboxes clean and in flow).
4. The Moon (and my cycle)
I have started to align my creative work with the phases of the moon and practice MCA (menstrual cycle awareness). I’ve been using The Moon Calendar App to learn and track the moon, and recently read Wild Power to learn more about women’s menstrual cycles and the way it can affect our energy, power, and creativity.
Whenever possible, I have started to experiment with allowing the moon’s phase and my menstrual cycle to affect calendar and scheduling decisions, and I am already noticing that tasks and projects are feeling flowier and less pushed.
I can’t believe I’ve been creating for so many decades without incorporating these essential rhythms into my creative work.
5. Energy Healing
I recently did several energy healing sessions with Rachael Ferrera, a dear colleague who is also a member of The Collective. Clearing unblocked energy is maybe the single most effective thing I have done for my creativity in the last several months. The only way I can describe Rachael’s work is: magic.
6. Deadlines and Accountability
After resisting project management tools for years (Click-up nearly ended my marriage 🙂 my team and I finally started using Asana. Relieving myself of having to hold every deadline and step of a project has given me back some energy for the creative work and projects themselves. Not everyone needs a project management tool, but holding some kind of deadline is necessary for most forms of creation. And having others involved with those deadlines dramatically increases our likelihood of accomplishing our work.
In the Collective we call them trustlines, because honoring them is one of the ways we can create trust with ourselves and our creativity.
At least once a day a voice in my head tries to convince me that the only way to get where I want to go is: alone, and that asking for help is not an option. Every day, I have to remind myself that this is a bold-faced lie.
I am part of a membership community, a small mastermind of women creators and entrepreneurs, several mom groups, and a bunch of solidly awesome text chains with different groups of friends. I would be nowhere without this constellation of humans.
The quality of our future will depend on our ability to give and receive support from each other, and our next wave of creative work will be shaped by those we are in community with. Even if our creative work is solo, we need to be around others who inspire us and keep us honest. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
8. Creative Wandering
I take wandering walks in our neighborhood (sometimes two a day). I wander in digital spaces like BrainPickings or Artsy and discover new artists and words and images. I wander through old journals and stacks of books.
In our hustle culture it can feel like the art of wandering is a lost art, but I firmly believe in its potent capabilities, and its important role on the path of our creative evolution.
9. Digital Boundaries
I’ve yet to utilize any of the more formal boundary-keeping and mental-space protecting apps (I have colleagues who like and use apps like Freedom) but I got back keeping a firm boundary around not using email and social media first thing in the morning and it felt extremely restorative. This reminds me to be a creator first, instead of a consumer. This is one of my most important boundaries and it directly affects the quality of my creative work.
10. My Wild Self
Our theme in The Collective this month is WILD, because our Wild Selves are the straightest, fasted path to the truth that I know of.
Our Wild Self is someone we remember—not someone we have to go out and find. It is one of the most essential relationships in our creative work but often underdeveloped in our training.
Getting to know our Wild Selves is one of the most important things we can do to spark creative flow. I started a practice of writing daily letters to my Wild Self. The work is: stay close. listen. stop negotiating with her responses. I am certain of increasingly less as I grow but one thing I know is she knows the way for us.
What about you? What resources or practices help you move through stuckness and block?
Head over to my Instagram and let me know.
And—next week I’ll be announcing something to spark more creative flow for all of us.