When we invest a lot of time and energy into our creative work, we become invested and attached to the results that will come of it. Is it a gift? For sale? A DIY project for your home? Once completed, then we become attached to the expectation of more creating, more doing, more sales. What happens when we become stuck?
What happens when we run out of ideas or become bored?
In this form we are usually asking ourselves two questions:
What is the cost of failure?
What benefit of success?
However, these are the same questions that can keep us stuck.
They keep us from moving forward because we are attached to the end results.
Sir Ken Robinson, author of Out of Our Minds and The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything, often refers to previous creative geniuses to show how creative thinking changed the course of history. In Out of Our Minds, he discusses Galileo and Kepler and the discovery that the sun, not the earth was the center of the universe. They were able to accomplish this, not because they kept looking at the same old information and asked the same old questions.
They accomplished it because they reframed, and asked NEW questions. Galileo and Kepler asked “What if?” “What if instead the sun was at the center and the planets moved around it?” In asking the NEW questions they changed the course of science and history.
When we are stuck, and we can’t seem to move forward, we need to stop thinking in our old patterns.
We need to ask NEW questions. See the answers from a new perspective.
Two of the main questions are:
What is the COST of SUCCESS?
What is the BENEFIT of FAILURE?
When we are stuck or feel like we are failing, there is something, some need that is being met by it. It’s possible it is something we are completely unaware that we have inside us. In order to figure out what it is, we need to ask the new questions and listen carefully to what our creative soul has to say. Maybe, it’s not the creative aspect of ourselves that is holding us back; it could be the more pragmatic or maybe introverted, possibly shy side of ourselves. Maybe it is our own sense of worthiness that is hiding in there, telling us not to move.
When I look at the cost of success for myself, I think of exposure. I am a very quiet, private person and becoming a “successful” writer means putting myself out there and being vulnerable to criticism and acceptance. Some days, I feel that acceptance would engulf who I am. That, for me, is a very high cost of success. I am working on it.
What is the benefit of me failing?
Well, the obvious is that all future success might be a surprise but the expectation of succeeding every time isn’t there. The other benefit to failure, to look at it honestly, is some moral support…”Oh, you’ll get them next time.” It isn’t right to manipulate that way. However, many of us have been taught not to ask for the moral support but rather trick others into giving it to us. This isn’t fair to anyone.
So the next time you feel stuck, bored, or unmovable, ask yourself a new question.
Ask yourself, “What am I gaining by being stuck here?”
It may be a different answer each time.
One of my favorite new questions when I am stuck comes from Natalie Goldberg, she says to start writing with the phrase, “I don’t remember…” We usually write from a place of knowing and remembering but this simple phrase changes the direction of your writing and can be quite enlightening.
Change the course of your creative soul.
Find your own new questions to ask and see what discoveries you can find.