Over the past twenty years, I have researched, studied, and written a great deal about creativity and the most common blocks and barriers that keep us from being our creative best. I usually organize these obstacles into several categories, such as “organizational” (structure, culture, leadership styles), “demographic” (gender, age, ethnicity), “cognitive” (mental models, even the Eight Creative Talents!), “functional” (background, education, training), “technical” (absence or over-abundance of knowledge), “health” (stress, lack of sleep) and “personal” (fears, passion, motivation, etc.). After describing and then discussing the various obstacles to creativity in workshops, classes, and conversations, I ask the participants to describe the obstacles that get most in their way. The majority will say “personal,” or “I am my worst enemy!”
Well, over the past month I have experienced a major block to my own creativity which overlaps several of the categories listed above and shows how tricky obstacles can be! I am not sure how to classify it actually, but it all started with the crash of my computer’s hard drive. That was Tuesday, the 7th of May. Two days later, I was back in business — sort of — thanks to my colleague who specializes in such problems and thanks to Carbonite’s tools that restored most of my Office files, although in different folders than I was used to. It has taken several more weeks to get my other applications and utilities up and running with the data and files they need. Plus there were all the passwords that were stored on my computer and which had to be recalled or created anew and then re-entered. Now just about a month later, I am almost 100% back online.
So frustration and major distraction have been the order of the day for the last several weeks. And what does all this have to do with my creativity? Well, I haven’t been able to think of much else in terms of composing tweets and blog posts, finishing up articles, preparing workshops, and tending to clients. My brain apparently has been stymied with trying to process anything other than the steps needed for the computer re-build. Talk about being inside a box! And talk about being my own worst enemy!
What’s the obstacle(s)? Limited bandwidth? Health/aging brain? Emotional (frustration? stress?)? Inability to deal with technological challenges that seem to get more complex with the passing months? All of the above? Whatever category they fit into, they have been a horrible detour on my creative journey!
As with other obstacles to creativity, it’s most appropriate to have a plan and strategy. My plan (and coping mechanisms), many of which are ways to deal with many of the obstacles listed above, include:
- Recognizing that these things take time, patience and perseverance.
- Accepting the fact that files may not be found in the same old places and I might have to adapt to new twists and turns in the configurations on my computer.
- Being gentle on myself. After all, this is the first (and regrettably probably not the last) catastrophe with my seven-year old computer!
- Reaching out to others for guidance and help. Thanks to the Neat customer support teams, the Carbonite folks, as well as my computer-savvy colleague, for their help and patience!
- Learning to live with the fact that some emails and other data might just be lost forever and that if they weren’t accessed within the last several months, maybe they aren’t really needed.
I am pretty much back to a new-normal and hopefully will be back on track with my writing very soon.
What unusual obstacles to your creativity have you run into lately and how did you deal with them?