Blocks to creativity
> Blocks to creativity
Environmental blocks |
People blocks | Internal blocks |
Blockbusting | See also
There are many blocks to creativity. This is a short article that
describes the three main domains of such blocks: the environment, other
people and, ultimately, ourselves. The response to creative blocks is
sometimes called blockbusting.
Some blocks occur in our environment. For example, dress codes and tidy
offices at work are all subtle signals that remind us that we must conform, even
in our thinking. Most of the time this is not a bad thing, but when we want to
be creative it can be subtly obstructive, even when we are working alone. If you
want to be creative, it can be a good idea to go offsite.
Environments can be supportive as well as obstructive, and you can
deliberately build an environment that are full of creative stimuli--or maybe
just very relaxing. Effective creative environments can vary with people and
moods, so you may want to be able to experiment with your surroundings so you
can build the most effective environment you can.
Many blocks come from other people. We are highly social creatures and even the
thought that a complete stranger may find us ridiculous is enough to make most
of us clam up. We are also competitive and judgemental which can easily lead us
to evaluating others and their ideas, even when we consciously know the
corrosive effect it will have on them.
Psychologist Carl Rogers said we should create two conditions for people:
Psychological safety by accepting the person, empathising and not evaluating
Psychological freedom to think, feel and contribute fully.
This is why group creativity is particularly tricky and why one of the basic
brainstorming rules is 'no judgement'. If you do not trust your co-creators, you
might as well all go home. It is also one reason why it is useful to have a
neutral facilitator run the session.
The final and most pernicious sources of creative blocks is - ourselves. More
accurately, it is our subconscious and that little voice that warns us of the
dangers of unconventional thought.
Many of these blocks come from our past and are programmed in from an early
age. We are taught to
follow the rules, be logical and not rock the boat. Our parents, teachers and
peers have all helped us put some powerful psychological blocks in place to keep
us on the straight and narrow socially-acceptable road. Most of the time this is
perfectly useful, but when we want to be creative, it is just a darned nuisance.
In the final analysis, all blocks are internal, although the people and things
around us can still make it easier or harder to get into a creative frame of
'Block-busting' is a term that is used to describe deliberate actions or
thoughts that are used to overcome our creative blocks. Many of the creative
tools are specifically designed to get past your internal blocks and let out
your creative self, for example by deliberately introducing unconventional
For example, a creative skill that children use is play, where suspension of
disbelief and open exploration is the norm. As adults we sometimes consider it
to be beneath us, or worry that others will judge us if we 'stoop to childlike
behaviour'. If we can overcome this irrational fear and take on a playful frame
of mind, we can re-open this valuable avenue of exploration.
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