Unblocking creative block: The guidance bowl

There’s a toilet bowl off to the right.
Emphatically, this is not the kind of bowl
we’re talking about here 🙂

Creative block can be the creator’s bane. You feel thwarted. You feel you’re not living your mission. If it goes on long enough your days take on a whiff of futility.

Sometimes all you need is a direction, some small push just to get yourself moving.
If you’ve been there, feeling paralysis, this hack my wife picked up from a workshop might help you:

The guidance bowl

It’s simple. You place a bowl in your creative space, on the periphery — not in your prime working zone.

You don’t want it as a focus. Because most of the time you are skiing the line feeling the exhilaration of momentum — and you don’t need the distraction. You don’t need an Oompa Loompa squatting in your glide path.

This bowl is for those times you’re not. Those times you’re not in the flow. For when you’re feeling meh and listless.

A simple bowl that pleases you is best. You don’t want a superhero cereal bowl staring at you from the corner of your eye — unless that’s your thing. If it is, hey, no judgment.

Cut strips of paper and write tiny actions on them. The kind of actions that are easy to take.

If you’re a musician one suggestion might simply be: Hold guitar and strum a chord you hate

Your suggestion might be: Write a 5-line poem backwards

Or: Write a line of gibberish code with a secret message in it

Or: Flip through tear sheets/inspiration clippings/bookmarked creative sites

One of Ann’s says: Move paint around on a board

Another might say: Stab charcoal marks across the surface of a blah piece

Something simple, to jumpstart you into the process . . . so that your monkey mind is quieted and your creative self is activated.

Once you’ve come up with 15 to 20 suggestions, wad them up and toss them into your bowl.

How it works 

The process is simplicity itself.

When you’re flummoxed but before you sink into complete entropy, pluck a paper ball from the bowl.

(Stir the bowl up first if you want.)

Here’s the most critical part: Whatever you pick up, do it.

Trust the process.

This is not catch and release fishing. If you start lazily going through one suggestion after another, the options are likely to shut you down further. You already don’t know what to do . . . so don’t go fishing through the alternatives to add confusion to your ennui.

The suggestion bowl is your activation bowl.

Choose a suggestion, trust it’s the right one for you at that moment, and without thinking, do it.

For the fun of it — and to be mystical hypnotic through repetition — let’s restate that in bullet points:

  1. Choose one suggestion only
  2. Trust it’s the right one for you
  3. Without thinking, do it!

Do it . . . in minutes you’ll be rolling somewhere. It doesn’t matter where. You’re creative. Once you’re rolling it’s easy to track in a different direction.

It’s the difference between being on the river angling to a different part of the flow versus sitting in your kayak on the shore.

Your suggestion bowl gets you in the stream.

This also is not a bowl.
But it was something creative cool— a beach cruiser without a top, mostly — so I’m including it here

Though you could place suggestions in it . . .
they’d just be hard to find after a drive

For you —

Evan Griffith
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Want to play at your creative best? Check out this little book: 
Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Procrastination done right (for idea generation)