Real Work: Why Creative Blocks are Necessary

Real Work: Why Creative Blocks are Necessary

I think I’m really just writing this for myself. This has been a strange week in my own creative work as a photographer. Outside of documenting weddings and families, which I really love to do, I work on personal projects or try to stretch myself creatively by learning something new.

But this week, I just feel lost. I think I’ve hit the so-called “creative block”.

I would probably liken this experience to falling into a hole. When this happens, I tend to panic and do whatever I can to get out. But it seems that after struggling to get out on my own, I end up just wearing myself out even more and find myself even more stuck.

But what I’ve tried to do this time is sit with it and see it as possibly an invitation to something new. A point in the journey to reevaluate and listen.

Today as I was sorting through papers on my desk, I came across a poem from Wendell Berry. Normally if there is poem that strikes me, I write it down and I’m really glad I wrote this one down a year or so ago. I think it speaks to this experience of a creative block. But it doesn’t try to give any quick solutions to get out but takes a different approach: that the impedance you may feel is actually the beginning of real work.

Here is the poem:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

I’m learning to lean into these times of unknowns, asking questions, and the feeling of being stuck. Because I’m thinking that it may be the beginning of something that we could have not willed on our own.

So…cheers to creative blocks and sitting in the tension!

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