Block. Creative Block.

By Aparajita 2021-03-19

Here’s your lucky Slytherin-green fountain pen. There’s your favorite Hunger Games planner. On top of both is an inch of dust because you’re experiencing the worst creative block ever. The odds are clearly not in your favor.

This time of the year is for ideating exciting new projects and essays, for fortifying your profile in preparation for this year’s application battle. But your ideas are balled-up pieces of post-its ruminating in an overflowing trash can. Nothing you do seems good enough! And you are a perfectionist. Your creations must be impeccable.

...Right?

One of my favorite words is sprezzatura—pronounce it like pizza (don’t forget the hand gesture)! Not unlike pizza, sprezzatura, which roughly translates to “studied carelessness” revels in its cheesy, overflowing abundance. The best part about eating pizza is that we do not think at all while gobbling down scalding hot cheese and creating a colossal mess around us. What we have is not just pizza; it’s sheer bliss.

Sometimes, it’s important not to think too much about the calories…or about competing creators. We create because the process makes us happy.

There are days when your thoughts will come pouring out in neatly colored spreadsheets. On others, they are as unorganized as your room during exam time. But, between the perfect idea and ‘everything-mortal-and-therefore-beneath-you’, is a vacuum often occupied by this furry little creature called creative block.

So, how do we tame it?

There are several types of creative blocks. Before you go to war on yours, it is important to know thy enemy.

  • The most common is the overthinker’s block, the curse of the perfectionist. When this happens, step out of your head! Go visit your grandparents in Nagaland, watch the latest Nolan movie, or just sweat it out at the gym. Scribble or doodle your thoughts – only if you feel the compelling need to.

  • Another lethal block is the emotional block. This manifests itself when the creative process becomes too intense. Braced for impact, you begin to procrastinate. In this case, it is important to face your fears. Remind yourself why you create. Hold on to that feeling like a Patronus charm. Now channel it into creating something bad! Remember, your doodle doesn’t have to be a Rembrandt. It should just … be you.

  • The third is a rare kind that occurs because of a disruption in routine. Anything from a messy sleep schedule to an unexpected life event could make you feel as though you do not have the headspace to create. If it is the former, chart out a wacky routine for yourself. Have fun! In case of the latter, catch a short break. Breathe. For when you come back from your proverbial Honolulu, you can channel all the angst and brokenness into your art. 

Above all, remember that creative blocks are perfectly normal. Everyone from Picasso to Edgar Allen Poe had creative blocks. But when they got back into the game, they were badder than ever!

And if you’ve ever come across those memes deconstructing Poe’s masterpiece ‘The Raven, remember that someday, your art too—the chaotic, unapologetic you of it—will be important enough to be read between the lines. And when they come across an extra space or an errant comma, they’ll say it was deliberate and call it sprezzatura!