Creative Block Is The Devil

July 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

Most everything I’ve read about creativity was primarily about creative block.  It’s given me the impression that we are a society of blocked creatives, people with imaginations capable of being sensitive, excited, awed, thrilled and energized by the act of creating things.  And that something is wrong.

I watched an episode of 60 Minutes when I was probably 12 or 13 that was about an alternative therapy for young people dying from anorexia.  The part I remember best was when they interviewed the woman who had created the clinic in order to try to save her daughter, who doctors said was incurable and would die.  She said every single person she had worked with had a voice in their head that was real and told them they were fat, ugly, worthless, and was constantly stopping them from eating.  She said you have to teach them to fight the voice, and that’s what’s missing from hospital help, and that even getting them to talk about the voice was hard.

That made an enormous impression on me.  I think that everyone has a voice in their head, a part of their psyche that is destructive, fear-mongering, and violent.  Part of me feels that our wellness has at least in part to do with how well this voice is distinguished from the rest of the psyche and how many skills and habits are applied to keeping it from running the show.  I have a lot of names for this voice in my own mind – the Critic, the Judge, the Censor, and it’s about the only thing that I think of these days as being the Devil, the force that wants to un-create the world.

I think it is this voice that stops us from creating.  While I have some mixed feelings about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I her love exercises and her advice to do the ones you feel excited about and the ones you feel an intense resistance to and just pass over the rest, which seems to me like a good policy for life.  One thing I like best is how the exercises try to get you to name what it is your Inner Censor says – what that destructive voices tells you to keep you in control.  The hardest thing I did as part of that workbook was writing out the harsh criticism my Inner Censor had of my work and myself and then writing a rebuttal.   I think it really helped me, sort of equipping me with what language to use when twisted logic starting taking over my self-worth and the erasing the worth of my work.

One thing I believe makes the Inner Critic so hard to overcome is that it often represents the damage our parents have done to our psyche.  It seems like it is very difficult for human beings to recognize fault in the people who raised them, and easier for the mind to twist itself all out of shape to avoid that awareness.  And branching out from that are all the other ways our society batters the creativity out of folks through further mystification of the creative process, equating of creativity with posturing some inappropriate status, and the vicious way we belittle anyone who is not a celebrity and hate anyone who is in a remarkably thinly veiled way, and how we fail to support artists in general, making it feel like stepping off a cliff to try and commit a substantial part of your life energy to creating something.


I think its very important to be humane and interfere for those who are suffering under abusive authority figures.  And I feel that one of the most simple and complex radical acts of justice we each find ourselves unavoidably responsible for is gaining back our own inner worlds from the Censor.


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§ One Response to Creative Block Is The Devil

  • elizabethalex says:

    Such a beautiful and insightful post. Especially everything you said in the second to last paragraph, including this: “It seems like it is very difficult for human beings to recognize fault in the people who raised them, and easier for the mind to twist itself all out of shape to avoid that awareness.”

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