Unicorns Suck, Roadblocks Rule, and Inspiration is B.S.

Before you try it, let me warn you about the perils of google-ing “creativity”. The only thing you’ll find are countless articles and programs teaching you how to “unleash,” “harness,” or “tap into” your creativity. I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.

. . . Everything about those statements implies that we have this magical store of creativity that lives within us, hidden in the recesses of our soul, just waiting to be unlocked. Riiiiight.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but creativity is not unleashed. It’s built and it’s cultivated. It’s not a wild pony to harness. The magical unicorn goddess of Inspiration is not going to shine on you if you build a vision board shrine. Unless you actually do the work that’s required to create something, no number of inspirational quotations, beautiful studio spaces, or endless resources will help you unleash, harness, or tap into your creativity and curry favor with Inspiration. Sure some of those things matter, eventually, but they won’t solve the single biggest creative problem. . .the roadblock.

We spend our lives looking for the path of least resistance and trying to eliminate all the roadblocks. We do everything in our power to amass resources that will make our personal and creative journeys easier. So what happens when we have all the resources and we’re on a resistance-free pathway to glory? We spin out of control (This isn’t going where you thought it was, is it?).

The roadblock is the single greatest asset you have as an artist, as a maker, as a creative thinker. Sure there’s some passion, inspiration, and general “light bulb” moments in the creative process, but more than that, what you’re doing is work. So, find a roadblock, build a wall, create a problem, and then figure out how to jump it, tear it down, and solve it. Do the prompt that you really don’t like and for which you can’t think of anything to do. Complete the task whether or not you feel inspired to. Solve the problem that you don’t immediately know how to solve. Do the thing you don’t want to do, because that is when you’re going to be at your creative peak. But please, for the love of the goddess Inspiration, don’t unleash, tap into, or harness. Just get your hands dirty and do the work. That requires true creativity.

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