It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re not feeling as creative as you’d like. But frustration is just another hinderance in the creative process, one that we must find a way to overcome in order to get back to creating.
But here you are, stuck.
You’ve tried everything you heard would help. Maybe you went for a walk, tried brainstorming with a friend or coworker, or you spent the equivalent of a full work day browsing for inspiration online.
You should have had a good idea by now, you think to yourself.
I don’t want you think having creative ideas is easy. The insights don’t always fly in when you need them most. In-fact: they hardly ever will.
We see and hear about these geniuses of our time, they seem to consistently have one good idea after the other, but the reality is quite the opposite: everyone gets stuck, even creative geniuses.
The difference between them and you is that they keep trying, they don’t let the fact that no good ideas are coming right now (or tomorrow, or the next day) stop them from doing the work.
Of course, there are things you can try to calm your brain and (with some luck) get the ideas flowing. One thing you can do right now to try and break away from the frustration is to literally break away for a while. Go for a walk with a friend and talk about anything but the creative work you’re trying to do. Go take a nap. Go watch a new movie.
What’s important isn’t to get the ideas going again right away. More important is allowing yourself to not feel overwhelmed by the fact that ideas aren’t coming. Accept that it’s normal! It doesn’t mean you’re any less creative or intelligent or useful.
The reason you’re stuck isn’t that you can’t have good ideas, or that you don’t have all you need to have them, it’s much more likely that you’re stressing yourself out and restricting your attention. That’s it.
If you feel like you should be having good ideas, but aren’t, don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Give yourself a break, give yourself some slack.
Read this next: Get out of your own way
How do you ever really know if an idea is worthwhile or not?
Nobody can really tell for sure. I certainly couldn’t tell you.
It seems that the best thing to do is have a purpose or a goal on which to evaluate your ideas. The goal can be anything: to write the book outline, to doodle the plan, to tap out a rhythm, then do what it takes to accomplish that goal.
With a goal in place, any idea that meets or exceeds that marker can be identified as a good one.
This way there’s no confusion, no wondering. The idea is good – no matter what it looks like, how it works, or how far away it is from what you originally envisioned – because it accomplishes what you set out for it to do.
One of the best ways to determine whether an idea is a good one or not isn’t whether it fails. It’s whether you created what you set out to do, whether someone (somewhere) connects to the idea, and whether you keep being drawn to it in some way or another.
If you can address all of those things and the idea doesn’t seem sound, it’s time to consider that all of the other factors – the environment, the presentation, the timing – may be off, not the idea itself.
Losing a battle doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war. I still believe and keep your faith.
— Alan Watts (via larmoyante)