How I Tackle Creative Blocks

Wallowing. It seems to work for me. I know, it sounds silly, but I’m an expert on this stuff. Not only Creativity, but wallowing. I’m a Voice and Creativity teacher by day and a wanna-be-writer at 5 in the morning. And I’d love to tell you the one thing that helps me write: Wallowing.
Wallowing is usually done on the floor, supplemented with sound effects, or not. The benefits are plenty.

I use wallowing as an accompanying behavior to help my brain get into that “space” that experts call flow. I lie on the floor, sort of roll back and forth, you know, wallow. It’s peaceful when done in the living room but going outside and staring at the undersides of leaves can work too. There’s more to wallowing, but I want to explain how a physical behavior can help the brain to click into a particular mode for abstract thought.

Take my day job: If my singing student wants to use a specific tone quality for a particular song, I train their voice along with a hand motion. This way, instead of a single pattern set for the vocal cords, the brain gets another connection to this specific tone quality. For example, in the high head voice, I ask the student to pull the note out of the air with their left hand. It’s like magic and actually helps students   sing high without tension. How? Firstly, it’s a distraction. And secondly, using the left hand quiets the critical side of the brain. It invites the Creativity part of the brain into the activity. Repetition will help train the body and voila, a person who couldn’t reach a high C is suddenly trilling like Snow White.

When we train our brain by using “accompanying” behaviors, usually we can kick that neuro-pathway into gear, even when facing self-doubt and the paralyzing fear that looms in the corner of the mind. Singers tend to experience ‘writer’s block’ as a pinching sensation in their throat; they literally choke, preventing themselves from “letting go” and from filling the room with their unlocked creativity and talent.

Now apply that to writing (or sculpting, painting, back-handsprings, etc). I am afraid that the blank page that stares at me from the computer screen won’t become what it should be, so instead of letting go, the page is literally blocked from filling.

The best way to ease my fear is to just lie down and let go.

I wallow on the floor, rocking, rolling and humming and because it’s a childhood behavior, memories flow in and out, I lose track of time, and I begin to feel connected to that vast realm known as the “internal.” My imagination is activated by this behavior and as such, I use it as a jump-start.
I probably should add that sometimes I cry a little and it’s usually because I’m frustrated as hell and want so desperately to finish my piece. The crying also helps as it connects me with my primal, emotional self. Frustration can be debilitating, and fear is the worst. If I can get my inner child on my side, I’ve got it made. Children aren’t afraid of creating.

Wallowing also induces curiosity, another childhood quality—which everyone knows is a sister to the imagination.

If wallowing becomes your base before you Create, it can lead the brain to that flow-state without all of the self-loathing and criticism. The wallow sets the brain in motion before you get up off the floor. This becomes your practice. It’s much better to concentrate on process (like flow and connecting to your deeper self) than product (“no one’s going to read this”). Wallowing can help you overcome fear by establishing a brain pattern and opening you up to the inner realm of Creativity that’s always waiting to be engaged.

Everyone’s different. If you played with Lincoln logs as a child, you could buy a set of those—the trick is to tap into the brain associations and trust those associations to defeat your block. What will your kids say when they walk in on their mother or father building a log cabin in the corner of the living room?