Creative block and writer’s block can have a number of causes including:
- Wrong phase – Not using the phase appropriate at the time. For example a writer may try over and over again to find the next line to their poem and get no-where. This is use of the inspiration phase. But they may need to use the clarification phase to decide what the poems will ‘say’, once this is decided the line often ‘writes itself’.
- Wrong mindset – This is very common indeed. When trawling for ideas it is necessary to be very free and experimental and entirely non-judgmental. Yet it is common to find people using a cautious self-critical phase more appropriate to evaluation.Similarly people are often not sufficiently critical in the evaluation phase, or sufficiently analytical and logical in the clarification phase. There is advice on tools, techniques and approaches to help with mindsets in “How to be Better at Creativity” Geoffrey Petty.
- Weak phase – Many people have a weak phase. For example you may be full of ideas (inspiration) but poor at working these to a conclusion (perspiration). You may have good judgement (distillation or evaluation) but not be good at getting enough ideas to practice this judgment on.
People can often strengthen their weak phase by using appropriate tools. Inspiration is a weak phase for many. Tools to help include ‘association and movement’ which makes use of ‘obvious’ ideas to generate stronger ones. ‘Analogy’, ‘trawling’, and ‘oblique sources’ make use of slightly ‘off beam’ material to generate original ideas. For example the sculptor Henry Moore often roamed the seashore, picking up curious pebbles and shells that fed his current interests, and his work seems to owe something to the eathered shapes of pebbles.
Instead of ducking in and out of all six ‘icedip’ phases using the correct mindset with each phase, ‘uncreative’ people, though they may have the skills necessary for original work, will tend to latch on to the very first idea that comes to them, and complete the work quickly and uncritically, without revision, and without serious thought about what they were trying to achieve.