Editor’s note: This article is the 19th in an A-Z series on issues related to creative blocks. This month we explore the benefits of solitude.
In other articles in this series, I discuss the benefits of being open to new experiences, including those that involve working with others. Social interactions give life to creativity. They stimulate new ways of thinking and generate strong emotional experiences that can turn into material for creative expression.
Still, moments of solitude offer invaluable opportunities to reflect on experiences in ways that can help a person to push through creative blocks. Many artists, performers, and other creative people find that solitude can be especially helpful in overcoming the feeling of being stuck.
During moments of solitude, you can:
- Listen to what’s happening in your head: You can follow your thoughts wherever they take you and see everything your imagination can conjure with your “mind’s eye.” For example, a songwriter struggling to come up with lyrics that describe the intense emotions associated with a recent loss can spend some time alone to observe what she thinks and feels about the event. By paying attention to her internal world, the words that resonate most may start to “reveal” themselves.
- Minimize external disruptions: Being away from others can allow you to focus without distraction. This can help you to go deeper into reflecting on a creative concept. Insights and “aha moments” may be likelier when the outside world takes a back seat for a little while. As an example, a software developer, especially one who is easily distracted, can spend time alone to become immersed in a complex thought process. Doing so may lead to quicker and better solutions.
- Connect with your originality: Solitude removes focus from the pressure to conform. When you’re not worried about what others think, you can exercise your uniqueness. An avant-garde musician can access his artistic voice and consider his aesthetic values and what he hopes to express. Solitude can help him achieve this without the backdrop of others’ critiques and ideas.
This kind of solitude, it should be noted, does not cause the suffering that feelings of loneliness might cause. Loneliness, when not a choice, can preoccupy creators with a longing to connect and may bring feelings of rejection. Although the emotional suffering associated with being lonely can lead to bursts of creative expression, the kind of solitude we’re discussing here is a conscious choice to reflect, contemplate, and be with oneself.
Finding time away from others isn’t always easy. We cannot run away from our social and cultural environment. Professional and personal relationships, and the obligations and responsibilities they bring, are big parts of our lives. Still, keeping the importance of solitude in mind is bound to make us prioritize it more. In turn, prioritizing solitude helps us unleash creative potential and overcome paralyzing blocks.
If you struggle with creative blocks, contact a licensed therapist in your area.
© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Olga Gonithellis, MA, MEd, LMHC, therapist in New York City, New York
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