Building Blocks

Today in yoga class, while I was supposed to be following my breath, I was thinking about why ideas for writing Free from Doubttopics are not as scorching hot white as they’ve been in the past. It’s a bad time to be having revelations when the instructor is telling you to empty your mind. But then, I’ve always had a penchant for disobedience.

I’m not talking about the actual presentation – the completed articles I share on this blog – I’m talking about the creative spark, the fascination with a topic, the inspiration that creates the flame. Artists, and some writers, too, call it the “Muse.”

A couple weeks ago, as my embers cooled, I put a call out to you, the readers. You’ll see it here. The response was considerable and I thank you for sharing your ideas. I received comments on the blog, social media and emails, and I knew…

You all need some help. (click to Tweet for those “other people” you know need help)

As a result of my inquiry several people mentioned needing help with lost inspiration, the AWOL muse, as their #1 concern.

Well, as you know, I’m one of you. I’ve had some experience outside the cave, and that makes me sometimes able to see the shadows differently. Sometimes, I can bring those forms to life for you, but you do much for me, too. We learn from one another.

Oh – back to my realization in yoga class…

We build the blocks.

creative blocksWe DO! We build writer’s block, artist’s block, musician’s block. We build damn big, hard to scale, 10 foot WALLS with these blocks. Blast it all!

Surprisingly, we often aren’t aware we’re building walls! (click to Tweet) We don’t know we’re being carpenters and engineers, we just build them unwittingly. How?

We get into a funk and stay there – “I’m ‘blocked,’” we whine, breathing life into our state of being, giving it a name, giving it POWER. It’s easy to be “blocked.” You don’t have to do a doggone thing. Other people will pitch you pity and ideas. You feel supported in your funkiness and, like a helpless child, you stay there. People think artists are weird and disconnected, so they LET you be weird and disconnected. Don’t pick that up! Don’t be that guy!

We lose momentum through our complacent ways – “I just need a break. I’m tired.”  You may look at it as just “recreating.” Now, I’ll give you some love and agree we do need to recharge from time to time.  That does not mean you crawl into a cave and enjoy a 2-year silent retreat. That respite might enlighten you, but you’ll emerge HUNGRY and still BLOCKED. Think of it this way – if you fall off a horse, it’s easier to catch the horse when it’s 20 feet away than when it’s 2 miles away. Wait too long, you’ll forget how to ride. I know I’m throwing “math” at you. Try to keep up, eh? It’s not a word problem.

We allow ourselves to lose focus – It’s natural for a shiny thing to pull us away from time to time. We’re ARTISTS! Part of capturing inspiration is the folly of chasing innovation, novel ideas, the pursuit of the impossible. However, we can get lost “out there” and unable to find our way back. As you go into the dark forest, you might want to leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Remember, evil witches lurk out there, too.

Life happens – Occasionally, circumstances pull us away from our work. The issues may be family related, work related or health related. All of these things are more important than the muse (oh, gawd! I will probably be cursed now and NEVER get a decent idea again). Forgive me! The point is, when life happens, we have to rise to the occasion. It’s a forced hiatus. Sometimes it happens. Good news, you can recover.

I’m aware – I chastised all your sad stories and didn’t offer any solutions. That’s kind of mean, but you can tell I’m reclaiming my sass. Honestly, no The Art of The Well Lived Life blog is complete without solutions. Here you go….

Antidotes for the poisoned Muse:Creative blocks

1. Feed her regularly – Click here for ideas to make your heart sing, fill your life with song and revive a funky Muse so you can work again.

2. Focus on gratitude – To get out of your funk, look outside yourself. Remember the story about the old grandfather with two wolves inside him?  He claimed to have an evil, selfish, negative, mean and deceitful wolf, and a good, kind, generous, truthful and compassionate wolf? He told his grandson the wolves inside him fought all the time. The grandson was concerned and asked, “Well, Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The reply, “The one I feed, my son…the one I feed.” Feed the good wolf and kick the anally affected wolf to the curb. (Click to Tweet…I dare you!)

3. Keep your breaks intentional, time sensitive and with a focus of moving forward – Breaks are necessary; it’s just we sometimes run into issues restarting the engine. Don’t turn the engine off – just let it idle. Breaks should be scheduled for a period of time and then the activity of the work resumes. Breaks designed to feed the muse, inspire you, or teach you new skills are perfect for not only regaining momentum, but pushing through to even bigger kinds of work. Take breaks, don’t stall. (Click to Tweet).

4. Schedule your work and your play. Routine and ritual play a huge role in having happy productive days. Good habits are essential and can save you from biting consequences  – can you say “tax time,” “deadline” or “missed opportunity?” Schedule your days to coincide with your energy levels and stick to the schedule. If you don’t feel inspired, go to work anyway. Sometimes, the best inspiration strikes you in the middle of your work. You may discover something that piques your interest…go with it.Notice the feeling when you slide into your creative space and learn to access your sweet spot. Schedule your play-time, too. Inspiration is often found in play-time…. and yoga class.

5. Strive for Balance Everyone, including artists feel wonky when their lives are not being properly tended. We are not only artists, we’re partners, friends, parents and community members. Take a moment to take stock of your life. Are you missing crucial elements to your well-being? Schedule some activities into your calendar to maintain a well-lived life.

I know I’ve gone long…feelin’ my mojo, you know? Please take responsibility for your own creative process and the care of your Muse. Remember, blocks build dams – damn!

Build Bridges not Walls,

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping the to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. Contact her for a sweet hand holding or a good ass-kicking.

Writer, Artist, Coach

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Michelle will be teaching a “The Painless Business of Art” workshop, March 14th at Blue Line Arts, in Roseville, CA. Join us and focus on creating a personal brand that is aligned with your authenticity as an artist. We’ll work on artist statements, portfolios, how to work with galleries and more. Register HERE.

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4 Replies to “Building Blocks”

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I love the point of the BLOCKS! I’ve had too many of them over the years and actually hid behind them. I’ve been in a funk, I’ve been complacent, I’ve let my breaks go for way too long and I’ve let life happen to me rather than me happening to life!

    It’s all changing for 2015…website is done (thanks for your review) and I’m getting my artwork out there for the world to see. My goals and marketing plan are roughed in and will be finalized this weekend…I am always SO inspired by your blog!

    Thanks Michelle! Deborah

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