Editor’s note: The following is part of the Break Through Your Creative Blocks series written by Mark McGuinness. This is #7. I shortened this a bit. Go look at the long form on Mark’s very own site:
Every creative medium has the equivalent of the writer’s blank page – an empty space waiting to be filled. And every creator knows the numbing feeling of staring at that space without a clue what to do or say next. The possibilities are endless – so many, that it’s impossible to choose. So many, that there might as well be none at all.
The feeling gets worse the more you look at the work of your creative heroes – what could you possibly add to what they have said and done in the field?
The thing is, you can’t plan for magic. You can only chant your little spell and hope the spirits are listening. You can’t plan ahead and anticipate “what you want to say” or ” what [you] want to take pictures of”. If the words or pictures are going to be worth paying attention to, they need to be as fresh a discovery to you as to your audience.
Enjoy Not Knowing
This can seem a bit subtle at first, or even impossible. Surely ‘not knowing’ is the problem we’re trying to get over here?
Actually, no. The real problem is ‘resisting not knowing’, or ‘wanting to know everything beforehand’. Drop that, and ‘not knowing’ isn’t a problem at all. In fact, it’s a big relief.
Stop and think for a moment about all the day-to-day situations where you’re expected to know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, how you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. All those expectations. All that accountability. All that pressure.
Sometimes, the weight of knowledge can start to feel a little heavy.
Isn’t it nice to have one small corner of your life where you don’t know what you’re going to do, or what’s going to happen? Where there are no expectations (other than the ones you bring with you) and no one will hold you to account?
“If you know exactly what you are going to do then what is the point in doing it?” ~ Picasso
Over to You
Do you always know ‘what you want to say’ with your work?
If not, is this a help or hindrance?
Any tips for dealing with feeling blocked by ‘not knowing’?
About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a poet, creative coach and co-founder of Lateral Action. Get to know Mark better on Twitter. http://lateralaction.com/articles/creative-thinking/