advice on creative block in business

You’ve worked out what you want to do, got started on a project or campaign, and taken it all the way through the seven stages of the process. It was a success, and you were proud.

Or, at minimum, proud that you finished. Okay, it wasn’t as good as you hoped, but not as bad as you feared, and you learned a lot for next time. Except next time isn’t happening.

You can’t seem to go again. You fear it’s over for you.

In 1952, Ralph Ellison published Invisible Man, an important novel about an African-American man whose color renders him invisible, that tackled many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans at that time. It won multiple awards, including the National Book Award for Fiction, and was ranked on both Modern Library and Time magazine’s best novel lists.

From 1952 to his death in 1994, Ellison worked on his second book, assembling some 2,000 pages of notes. He knew he had creative block and described it to fellow scribe Saul Bellow as being “as big as the Ritz.”

In 1994, forty-two years after Invisible Man’s publication, he was still claiming the book was “nearly completed,” but it wasn’t until after he died that somebody else pulled it together.

Ellison clearly knew enough about the technical side of his work and how to get it to market. None of that was the source of his trouble, or enough to help him.

It’s also possible to fizzle out further along the line. Perhaps you had a failure that burned you too badly for you to try again.

Perhaps conditions changed, and you hit an insurmountable obstacle.

Perhaps your creative intention was to complete the first project or to get the business started, and you never looked beyond that.

Don’t believe the voice that says you are a “one-hit wonder,” or that says it’s over for you. You’re now more fortunate than when you were a beginner who hadn’t yet learned the tools of the trade. You’ve shown what you can do.

You are right in considering your stoppage unhealthy and undesirable, and right in believing it can be relieved.

Beating Creative Business Block Series

Part One: O Sorrow and Shame

Part Two: The Don’t Knows

Part Three: Can’t Get Going

Part Four: The Strugglers

Part Six: The Underdeveloped

Part Seven: The Stop-Starts

Part Eight: Wrong Work, Sector or Niche

Part Nine: Creative Cure For Creative Block