It’s the same with your creative capacity. It’s always there, ready to supply you whenever you need it. But like most people, you may not have located the switch. It may seem like someone else got there first and is randomly flicking it on and off.
When you’re blocked it can feel not only like your creativity is ‘off’ but that someone has actually pulled the plug. Actor and prolific comic writer John Cleese points to that ‘someone’ who can either turn off the switch or turn it back on again:
“Creativity is not a skill, it’s a state of mind, being in the open state.”
Accessing your creative capacity is dependent on your state of mind being open instead of closed, of being on instead of off.
So how do you get into the optimum state of mind for creativity?
To do that, first you need to understand how your state of mind works.
Imagine this simple circle as a cross section of the power cable that’s behind the on/off switch. It’s a clear open channel for the power to flow through when nothing obstructs its way.
Now image this channel supplies your creativity, a direct connection to your full creative capacity, always ready to supply you whenever you need it. This channel has an extremely delicate sensory system and it’s easily obstructed, and there’s something that can obstruct it on a moment-to-moment basis. Thought.
Thought determines your state of mind in any given moment. It is also the one thing that can lead you to a clear open channel for fresh ideas and insights, or to a creative capacity that gets more and more obstructed and limited:
“Ok, this is stinker of a brief, such
cripplingly tight brand guidelines.
They say they want something
‘innovative’ but really they want
to play safe. Same old, same old.”
“Nope, I can’t pull a rabbit out
of the hat with these guideline
limitations. I refuse to just create
some mediocre solution to fit
their convoluted brief!”
“And to top it all off this deadline
is ridiculous! How the hell do
they expect me come up with
‘a miracle’ under this sort of
pressure. What idiots!!”
When you become consumed by the content of your thinking and you’re not focused on what you actually want to achieve, you obstruct your creative capacity and your natural flow state.
However, the moment your thoughts settle down, you have access to a clear channel. It’s a moment-to-moment experience, playing out in real-time and because your capacity is always there, and is never ‘off’. One minute you can find yourself in a block the next in flow. It’s really all down to what’s going on in your head.
Now, there’s a plethora of tools and techniques out there to help you ‘manage’ your state of mind, however have you ever tried to manage your thoughts? It takes a lot of conscious effort, dedication and determination. It only works if you keep it up (and doesn’t always work) and is not sustainable for very long periods of time unless you have super-human powers. Let’s face it, can you predict what thoughts are going to drop into your head in a minute, an hour, a days time?
You need thought to function in every single aspect of your life, so what do you do?
The solution is not to manage your thoughts, because with managing your thoughts comes more thought. And it’s not to focus on the content of your thinking either.
The solution is to go beyond managing, and before content. It’s to understand the principle of thought, of how it actually works.