The Oxymoron of Expectant Creativity

I’m a creative person now love me!

 Have you ever noticed there is this little inconvenient phenomenon that occurs whenever you are in a crunch for time or under pressure and it seems like you just can’t write?
We spoke about this a little bit when we looked at stress and how it affects creativity, but I thought it was worth mentioning again while we are still in this month of discussing creativity and being creative. In fact, it happened to me recently.

For me, this feeling sometimes manifests as a total lack of confidence in our abilities or even a feeling that we have lost the ability to write well. It’s a lot like what I’d imagine temporary blindness is like. You are so used to having all this stimulation and all of a sudden it is stripped from you and your vision is just blurry or spotty, but entirely absent. Only darkness. What follows? A feeling of helplessness. and that’s painful.

I was nearing the end of an internship at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, ON where I was planning and conducting assessments and therapy in the field of communication disorders. When you are working in a field that looks at anything to do with the human body, there are some handy algorithms or patterns you can take advantage of, but the reality is that each person is different.

So assessments and therapy plans never go exactly as you expect.I was nearing the end of my internship and the weight of expectations from my supervisors and myself (mostly myself) was making it difficult to focus on being creative when a unique clinical situation presented itself. I can remember a point in a therapy session where literally nothing was going to plan: I had not been prepared for differing dynamics of members of a therapy group and I had not expected the needs of each individual to be so drastically different. In that moment, I thought about how my internship was coming to a close and how important it was to leave a good impression with only a week left before my final evaluation. Suddenly all my knowledge, all my skills, dissipated. I literally couldn’t tap into any new ideas. Lack of creatively sucks.

I tried to return to the algorithms or alternate plans that had been effective in the past, but I kept picturing myself running to barrels or baskets in my mind, the visual is great but not in real life. These were the places where I expected to find some ideas, but each one was empty, and I was frustrated about this.

This is the place where I have to admit my shortcomings when dealing with this kind of dilemma. For me I find it helpful to go back to a plan, but in our other posts this month we have talked about how plans can sometimes stifle creativity. Another thing that seemed to help is just taking a minute to breathe and relax. We have spoken before about how balance is important, but I think when it comes to wanting to reach your creative potential it is worth mentioning again. We aren’t talking risk not meeting a deadline here, just taking even 10-15 minutes to just relax and do something to free your mind.

What really was going on was that I forgot to relax. I forgot to step back and think about what I was doing wasn’t working and how I could make it work. I was getting too frustrated and couldn’t tap into my creativity. I wasn’t breathing right, and I was trying to think “this” way, when it wasn’t working for me. My team could have helped me, had I asked but I didn’t. As a writer, this solution comes to play when you ask the blogging community for ideas or do a guest blog post or something different.

What are your strategies for overcoming these kind of situations (if they ever happen to you, and I’m sure they do)? What have you found works? What doesn’t work? One thing is for sure, if you expect too much of yourself or allow pressure to overwhelm you, your creative spirit is likely to run and hide.

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