More often than we’d like, creative work leads to creative blocks. The design isn’t quite right. The melody doesn’t fit. The words just aren’t coming out…
We’ve been taught that the path to success is about hard work. Great work is supposed to be challenging, right? It’s ingrained in us through sports, movies, and teachers that the way to push past obstacles is to do just that — push!
There are many occasions where this is true. Situations where it’s time to dig in and really have it out with our problems — lock the door until a solution is reached. Yet, so often, the best path is to do the opposite.
Leonard Cohen, one of the most prolific poets and writers of our time, said this when asked how he deals with creative blocks:
“In dreams, the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress.” -Leonard Cohen
Think back to a problem you’ve had that felt hopeless. You wrestled with it for weeks until finally giving up. “There’s just no answer…” A few days later, however, the answer magically arrives. It all seems so clear now.
When we’re faced with a problem, the logical part of our brain kicks in. We think systematically, running down all the possibilities our conscious mind can conjure. It isn’t until we let go of trying to solve the issue that our subconscious goes to work. Once our problem-solving hat is removed, our divergent thinking takes flight. And it’s that divergent thinking that has an all-access pass to our imagination.
Whatever is plaguing you, whatever issue you’re wrestling with, try walking away. Put it out of your mind. You’re not giving up. You’re just passing the ball to a different part of the brain more suited to make the winning shot.