Sunday, February 21, 2010

Encouragement for artists: don’t have a plan

You don’t have to have it all mapped out in order to create something beautiful. Especially if the lack of a concrete idea is becoming an obstacle to your creating. If you’re telling yourself you can’t sit down and make something until you have an idea, you’re probably procrastinating. See, I believe that creative people always have ideas floating around in their subconscious mind. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know that we were creative people. It is the idea that is the seed of creativity. The conscious mind acts like a sentry to those ideas sometimes – probably for myriad reasons, not all of which are valid. Sometimes, it just might be that we want to sabotage ourselves. Sometimes, we have irrational fears. Whatever it is that is keeping your inner idea from expressing itself, let’s just go ahead and ignore that.

How do you ignore your conscious mind? You bypass it. Don’t listen to the voices telling you that you have to have a plan mapped out before you can create. Go to your place – get your tools, whatever those are, and place them within reach. Get your supplies out and put them in front of you and look at them. Put on some inspiring music. Close your eyes for a few moments if that helps you relax. Clear out the thoughts of your busy day and all your troubles. Open your eyes and look through your supplies and pick out something that catches your eye. Play with it. Use your tools to play with it. Don’t try to have a certain idea about what you’re going to make. Just play.

The purpose is not to come up with something “useable” or “pretty”. The purpose is simply to let your subconscious mind bypass your conscious, strict sentry, and just create. Don’t judge whatever results from your play time. When your time is up, just put the item aside and go back to your daily routine. Your subconscious is still working on being creative, and you just gave it something to “gnaw” on. Make a practice of this, and pretty soon your conscious mind won’t work quite so hard to discourage you. Either that, or you’ll just get better at ignoring it. :)

(this is a reprint from my personal blog,


  1. This is great encouragement tina! Thanks for the ideas!

  2. Ooh Tina- I totally love this concept of giving my subconscious something to gnaw on- this is making me think of how exercise improves your metabolism long after you have finished exercising- same process with our creative minds and spirits- great post!

  3. Great post, and so true! I find just making something... anything at all, even if it's crap, is the best way to unclog a creative block and get the ideas flowing again.

  4. YES. i'm sure we all experience this... slap that silly inner critic in the mouth, and let it flow... :)great article.
    Just reading this, I was able to visualize how I will deal with the next time I sit down with a blank paper. Thank you:)

    oh, and does anyone know why when I try to post from my typepad account, it says "your openID credentials could not be verified."?

  5. i love this approach but i don't do it nearly enough, something i really need to change... thank you... :)

  6. absolutely 100% truth! thank you for putting it into words. :)