Where Creative Block Comes From

Creative Block: a phrase to strike fear in the hearts of authors, composers, arrangers, and artists of all sorts.

In my experience, creative block comes from a single source: personal expectations.

Sometimes, when I’m writing something and have high expectations for it’s eventual impact, I feel my creativity and productivity slow to a trickle.

On the other hand, when I’m writing with no expectations for the work, my creativity will peak and I will find myself back in the zone.

This makes sense to me: if creativity comes from playing with ideas, and external pressure blocks that play, then your expectations for the work will necessarily block you.

My solutions are two. First, via Anne Lamott and later Brené Brown I believe in writing a SFD. (Sh***y First Draft) This is the permission to write terribly, and then fix it in the editing process. Whenever I truly give myself that permission, I find myself able to write again.

Second, I occasionally write uncreatively. I’m lucky to have a yearly project (the RHS Cabaret next week) that involved rote use of my creative musical tools, writing band parts for songs. It’s utterly uncreative, but it uses the exact same process as my most creative work, and gets me flowing again.


Why am writing about Creative Block today? Easy. Today is my two-year “blogiversary.” I haven’t missed a day of posting since November 4, 2014! That’s a total of 735 posts comprising over 150,000 words!

In retrospective moments like this, you obviously want to write something that culminates and respects all the work you’ve already done. But in the end, the way to keep going is to forget the expectations and write what you feel.

Thanks for joining me – I’ll keep going if you keep reading!