Two Types of Creative Block and How to Beat Them
“Ideas + Execution” is the Golden Goose of the 21st Century
You can call these writer’s blocks or creative blocks. But really they affect anyone who’s trying to make something out of their life.
- You have lot’s of ideas, but you don’t know how to get started.
- You’re great at getting things done, but you have no great ideas.
Have ideas, can’t get started
Riding the bus. Sitting in a movie theatre. In the middle of a client meeting.
Ideas come to you constantly. Your notebook is full of them. But you can’t seem to figure out what comes next.
I envy you. I don’t have this problem.
At the core this is an issue of motivation. Because Step Zero of every single idea is “Find Step One.”
Fear is stopping you. Fear of failure. Fear of success. In short, Resistance.
Put your ass in the chair and do your work. No excuses. Write, draw, create, whatever. Quoting William Faulkner:
I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.
Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way also suggests a morning journal practice. Search online and you can find thousands who have been changed by writing 750 words each morning.
Without even a bad idea to work on, “Do the Work” can be a dangerous trap.
For those with the second kind of creative block, just sitting in the chair isn’t enough.
No ideas, but killer execution
Let’s call this the “ghost writer” problem. It is also the “wage slave” problem.
This is also my problem. Did you also only pick the suggested essay questions, never bothering to think of your own ideas?
Then this is your problem too.
So you’re a great writer. Your boss tells you to write an article, and you write a perfect article. Told to write a story, and you write an engaging story.
Give me a topic for a book and I can dash out 500 pages.
Tell me to write my own 500 word blog post and suddenly I have no ideas, no interests, and no thoughts. This problem seemed to dog me for what feels like ten years.
The problem with “Write Every Day” is it can become an excuse to write about yourself and your issues. Over and over. For years.
Morning Pages are not going to work for if you don’t take time to exercise your idea muscle. Your journal just becomes a place for unproductive rumination.
The problem is your idea muscle has atrophied.
Many books suggest procedures for coming up with ideas. There is an easier solution. Force yourself to have ten new ideas everyday.
I’m grateful for discovering this habit in James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself. If you need ideas on what ideas to generate daily, give his wife Claudia Azula Altucher’s book Become An Idea Machine a try. It is a six month daily practice for producing ideas.
How to get the Golden Goose
“I have a great idea for a project. How do I protect it from competitors.”
Ideas are worthless without execution.
“I just want to work on something cool. How do I find someone to employ me?”
The world is full of people willing to execute the ideas of others, and do so for next to nothing.
Develop the courage to have one great idea for every 100 bad ideas you execute — that’s the one skill that’s scarce.