Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up too. If she doesn't show up invited, eventually she just shows up." Isasabel Allande
"When I'm am stuck ....I just search for excitment, but not too hard. It is when I am playing more than trying, that I find my way out of a block." Aris Moore
These two quotes sum up a tried an tested way to move through a creative block, consistently show up and play with no pressure. But sometimes our emotions and negative self talk can create huge resistance to doing just this, so I would like to show you another way. A way of working with these emotions, to move through a creative block and send imposter syndrome packing.
The creative process has a natural rhythm and one that can be quite unnerving, even if you have had a consistent art practice for some time. I’m referring to those moments of lethargy, lack of inspiration or just plain resistance to showing up and doing the work that every artist experiences at one point or another. Often, but not always it can be after completing a body of work, course or some other achievement. I have just come out the other side of a bit of a lull. I was still following the advice of turn up anyway and something will shift but I still wasn’t particularly excited about anything that was appearing on the canvas, and I really believe that it is this excitement and passion that makes a difference not just in your work but how it is received in the world.
In the past few weeks I have been hugely inspired by a new technique I’ve been exploring. A culmination of a couple of art courses and time away in beautiful wild places but most importantly I had not only taken the pressure off to produce results I had fallen back in love my practice. The work was pouring out of me, but it was the process not the finished pieces that I was really excited about and all the different things I wanted to try with it.
Suddenly I was getting traction on Instagram. After most of my posts getting very little reach for quite a few months, not only were my hashtags working but I was getting consistently getting found on Explore, gaining lots more followers and someone even asked to buy a piece of art I had not even said was for sale. As well as this, a couple of older paintings that were on my website, also sold out of the blue, without me advertising them. This I believe is what they call that allusive law of attraction. I was loving the process, really enjoying the experimentation and sharing that with social media and as a result I was getting this mirrored back to me. Others were loving it too.
I’ve seen this so many times in my Kinesiololgy practice as well. When I first set up my practice I would worry when I had a quiet patch but now I know that it was really what I was wanting and needing. A break so I didn’t burn out, or my attention was on something else that I secretly wanted the time to focus on. It also worked the other way. When I had done a course or learnt a new technique, not only would I be inspired and excited about this I would suddenly attract clients that needed this exact treatment and as a result my practice would get busy again.
Now I’m in the next phase. The experiments aren’t always working and in fact there are many failed attempts. So how to keep the excitement going?
1 Take the pressure off.
I know myself as soon as I’m striving for a finished painting it will instantly kill it. So what does this look like in practical terms.
Do something different, this could be
Move on to a different painting
Working in a sketchbook
Make collage papers
Explore different materials
Go on an artist date as recommended by Julia Cameron in her well loved book The Artist's Way
Or something completely unrelated to art.
2 Give yourself permission to do what you are drawn to do, not what you feel you should do.
I was chatting to an artist friend recently who was in a particularly low slump, ironically since coming back from holiday. She had many projects on the go and was feeling overwhelm and obligation every time she had time to go into her studio. She felt she should be painting but actually as we talked it through, what she really wanted was to just make collage papers and watch films and hunker down in front of the fire. A natural feeling as the seasons change and we head towards winter. This is from a person who is super organised, does her admin before her painting and is very driven so this was a completely appropriate reaction. She needed to recharge and she needed to listen to that. Her holiday obviously had not been long enough! It is also well known that our best creative ideas often come when we in down time, so although it may seem counter-intuitive, taking time out often can increase our productivity.
3 Make friends with the feeling
Not only is it ok to feel like this, it is completely normal. More than often what causes a person to become stuck in a negative emotion or headspace is the resistance to fully accept and feel this emotion and allow it to move through. If you have ever seen toddler get upset about something then you will have seen an expert at this ability to really feel an emotion and move on. I’m not suggesting will all have temper tantrums and but these following techniques can really help move through a negative feeling or block.
Emotrance: This is a technique that uses mindfulness to really feel and acknowledge an emotion and thus allowing it to be released. Here is a little guided meditaiton for you to try.
There is an acupuncture point we use in kinesiology to help reframe subconcious blocks that we call fundemental conflicts. You can believe 100 percent that you want to be creative but your actions don’t follow that. For example you may know you want to paint but your find yourself doing the housework instead or getting distracted by family obligations that are often a habit rather than essential. This acupuncture point is called Small Intestine 3 and in chinese medicine the small intestine helps the body to intergrate emotions as well as food. Therefore tapping this point while saying an affirmation (a positive statement in the present tense) helps your unconcious mind accept it more willingly.
The statements that most often come up for people are
“I truly want to ….”
“I truly can…
“Its safe for me to ...”
“I deserve to ...” just fill the blank with whatever you seem to be resisting, such as “ I truly want to be creative” or “I truly can make unique and beautiful art” or whatever feel are the right words for you. A kinesiologist muscle tests to find the right wording but if you really feel into it you’ll know when the wording is right. Say this about 10 times several times a day while tapping this point and things will gently begin to shift. You can’t over do it.
You can also use this point to accept the emotion and this can be useful to do before the emotrance meditation above. In this situation use the affirmation ”Even though I am feeling…..about my creative practice, still love and accept myself”, filling in the blank with the negative thought or emotion. This is part of a more in depth practice called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or tapping. There is not the space to go into in detail here but there are many good you tube videos on it, just do an internet search and you will find the right teacher you resonate with.
Will all these practices, be gentle on yourself and seek professional help if you need more guidance. I really hope you find these techniques helpful and are quickly back to making art you love.
Part 2 to follow....