Do you know the feeling when you have a lot of good ideas at the same time and you don’t know where to start? Or do you know the feeling when you have a lot of ideas but don’t know whether they are really good? Or do you know the feeling when you know that you are actually good, but you can’t come up with new ideas? In the end you sit there, dissatisfied & disagreed with yourself. Nothing happens and you suddenly realize that you are probably experiencing an artistic block .
Blockage sounds very harsh. Some prefer to talk about a creative break , because this euphemism doesn’t sound that bad. However, the result is the same. I call this situation an idea jam . By doing this, I acknowledge that the current situation does not feel like I would like it to be, AND I remind myself that I may very well always have a lot of ideas. For me, “ideas jam” also means that I don’t just have to wait idly until it’s over, but can do something.
To be artistically active often means that you are “in the flow”, that you do your own work with a high degree of passion and identify with it far more than many other people in other professions. Artists often merge with what they’re doing. In the best case, it feels wonderful. But it can also happen that this river suddenly stops flowing and that you feel somehow blocked. Such a jam of ideas quickly affects (often highly sensitive) artists’ own well-being and causes emotional stress.
Lots of good ideas – but where to start?
Your thoughts go in circles. Instead of doing something, you sit there and nothing happens. In the end, you are totally dissatisfied because you just wasted your valuable time. All that thinking, weighing, maybe even creating priority lists has led to nothing. You feel empty and unable to do anything. You stand in your own way.
Very important in this situation: No matter how you feel now, you can just let the feeling be AND still do something!You don’t feel like you just have it. Feelings are inherent in that they come & swell and then go & wane again. Give it a try in a harmless situation: Perhaps you are currently annoyed about the content of an email that you have received. You can now decide to read the email over and over and get further and further into the anger. Or: Feel the anger, let it be and then you take care of tidying up your studio – or the kitchen. When you are done with it, look carefully to see if the feeling is still there in the same strength. Probably not, and you’ve already done the cleanup before.
Lots of good ideas – but are they really good enough?
The doubt, yes, the self-doubt has struck again and is gnawing at you. Yesterday evening after finishing your work you found your new work of art really great, today it looks completely different in daylight. Yesterday you applied for an exhibition space. Today you think that you should have put it off for another year because you think you are not good enough after all.
Very important in this situation: Don’t believe everything you think!Thoughts are first and foremost thoughts – they are not reality. Thoughts are always in flux, they come and go. Observe yourself once for a day or even an hour. What thoughts come to you automatically without you having made up your mind to think them? Our brains are constantly sending us new thoughts, and since these are not reality, they can be like this today and like this tomorrow. An important finding! Instead of believing everything in your thoughts, you should always ask yourself if a particular thought is useful for you and your advancement. If not, leave it where it is and just wait for it to go away. If so, then thank your brain for sending this helpful thought over and follow it!
Your career has finally picked up speed – of all times, the new ideas are missing
In this case too, I doubt your thoughts are telling you the truth. Most artists are constantly having new ideas that just hide well at times.
Very important in this situation: Take the mental focus away from what is not there right now. You have already noticed above that thoughts & feelings come and go and so probably also this feeling of emptiness. Trust that your ideas will come back. Hey, you are an artist! You keep coming up with new ideas and often spontaneously and unexpectedly. Here, too, just switch to another activity first. Let your thoughts run free and watch them. If there is a good idea, hold on to it! Write them down! Implement them!
That’s what it’s about
The emotional merging with one’s own art is a wonderful gift that was given to us artists. Merging with unpleasant thoughts or feelings, on the other hand, can sometimes be quite annoying. You can learn to consciously differentiate between the two. And you can learn to distance yourself from uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. Accept that they are there, but don’t identify with them. And then just paint something anyway! Or first tidy up your studio – or the kitchen. The unpleasant thoughts and feelings will go away all by themselves!