Creativity: Break On Through

End artistic block with this creative activity.

Posted Oct 21, 2018

 dotigabrielf / pixabay
Source: dotigabrielf / Pixabay

Creative block is state of mind. It affects just about every artist, writer, and anyone involved in creative activities. As we discussed in a previous post, one way to relieve it is by shifting your attention.  Last time, we took a look at turning attention outward. This time, we will discuss a method that takes the internal road.  Again, I think you will get some pretty nice results. 

Getting Started

Moving your attention inward means what it suggests: to peer inside yourself, digging deeper into the layers of what you are experiencing.  When you shift your focus inward, you don’t have to be looking for anything in particular.  You’re just freeing your mind to roam your internal landscapes – letting thoughts emotions, pieces of ideas, images, sounds, pieces of and whole narratives just float by as if they were reflections on a still lake.  I suggest keeping a wide lens, at least in the beginning.  The more objective you can be, the more clearly you will begin to notice the plethora of details sparking your moment.  In effect, this mindset is meditative.

Some individuals enjoy writing down details they are noticing.  I suggest this.  You’ll know when to do so as you don’t want to interrupt a moment's potential insight to jot something down.  There are natural places to pause.  Some people are more comfortable waiting till after their meditation so as not to disturb their experience as it manifests. Either way is fine.  And both have their own advantages.

You Can Take One Piece at a Time

If you try this, remember you don’t have to see and understand the entire "picture" in one attempt or even one day.  Consider taking your time.  When concentration seems to weaken, it’s a good time to do other things – e.g. take a walk or do some physical exercise or just shift to another daily chore. The point is you can come back and revisit your landscape. 

When you do come back to your meditation, recreate the picture you were experiencing in detail and also try to expand the details of what you are experiencing by seeing more of your subject and around it. Write it all down.  Try to see first and then understand later, realizing you may never totally comprehend. In some cases that may be the bolder point – or theme. 

You can also take the whole “vision” a piece at a time, seeing each section separately. Some people give each piece its own day or sitting and then add its information to the whole bigger picture later.

It is very okay to feel puzzlement as you work through the process.  In fact, this phase usually precedes those pieces that bring about real breakthroughs.  Most real-life experiences are a mold of details streaming from a complexity of other details, experiences, and information.   Discovering the truth of a cluster of details as they relate to the entire picture or composition is invigorating for both the artist and audiences of her art.  Remember too that the same details you are responding to in your meditation can surprisingly connect to other situations in your life and the personal and public lives of others in the way, say, a metaphor does or like components of a dream might – e.g. a puzzling dream involving details of an apartment you actually lived in during college days may be analogous in certain details to feelings regarding recent discussions with your 14-year-old son’s sudden realization that he will be leaving home soon for his own college pursuits.  Most everyone has their own version of a dream that is metaphorical to their life.

When objects, words, images, and ideas rise way above themselves, as in metaphor, and do what the art world covets – they have the possibility to universalize. In a similar way, this is what we are going for by moving our attention internally. Internal landscapes can be used in art as symbols that dramatically connect with others in a compassionate, healthy, positive way. 

Breaking Through

Allen Ginsberg called the process of going inward “breaking through.”  Ultimately what you are looking for is to more deeply and accurately understand the person you really are.  Ginsberg called this the path to unspoken love, which he maintained we all have and carry within.  So an artist knows when she or he hits this spot as you peel away layer after layer of an experience and wind up coming face-to-face with something you are so passionate about and desire so profoundly that you don’t feel comfortable even mentioning it to anyone in the visible world.  It remains unspoken.  This is what Ginsberg refers to as unspoken love – and coming to terms with it is breaking through.  Thus the artist’s job is to drill inwardly and keep going until you discover that sweet spot at the core of your meditative experience and attempt to understand ways it may affect your visible life.

 Virginia Wolfe presented a similar concept which she referred to as “moments of being,” what you can consider high definition life or presence that is connected to one’s deepest desires and cuts to the core of who you are.  From these interior zones, some lively images of life emerge.  Keeping your attention within this space – using your creative meditation – can give you the fresh creative energy and insight to push back artistic block. 

Experiment and enjoy.