Creative block can be caused by numerous reasons:
It might be that the young person has never attempted to do a creative piece of work before and struggles to define what it might mean. It might be that the young person has tried in the past but has experienced a harsh critic or failure in their own opinion. It could be just a lack of confidence and trust in their own capabilities.
Creative block can be caused by numerous reasons:
- It might be that the young person has never attempted to do a creative piece of work before and struggles to define what it might mean.
- It might be that the young person has tried in the past but has experienced a harsh critic or failure in their own opinion.
- It could be just a lack of confidence and trust in their own capabilities.
It is rare to meet any young person who experiences an ongoing and lengthy creative block. Generally, when it comes to creative work, it is important to define that usually the term of ‘block’ would be associated with writers and creators that have been creating for a while but now, for some reason, lose their ability to create more or experience a creative slowdown. However, the young person still might struggle when creating new work. In my opinion, when working with young people, it is important for the music leader to establish the main causes for this struggle. It is certainly not needed or necessary to be discussed with the them (unless suggested by the young person him/herself) - it is really just a subtle way for the music leader to get the idea of reasons behind the creative difficulties and, as a result, use variety of methods to inspire the young person to trust themselves and allow themselves to be creative without worries of being judged.
If the young person has lost interest in creative work as a result of a less successful experience in the past, it might be worth discussing different topics or new themes for the work. Too often young people “get stuck” in the same thematic circle. It is often related to their own experiences but part of the music leader’s role should be to broaden the horizons of the young person. Opening new and inspirational subjects could prove to be not only beneficial from a creative point of view but also increase the knowledge base of the young person.
Also, teaching new skills to a young person can be a very empowering way to give new tools for creative exploration. As an example, if a young person feels embarrassed to sing, trying to play piano or any other instrument could slowly bring the young person back to enjoying him/herself whilst doing a creative activity. It can be beneficial to establish that not all the pressure and responsibility lies just on one person's shoulders. Team work can be useful for development of new social and emotional skills as well as easing back into the art of performance of any kind.
On the surface it might appear that a young person has a creative block or just can't create at all. However, I feel it is more often linked to their lack of confidence, a fact that normally they might not be given a chance to express themselves, so being asked of their opinion is unusual for them. It is so important not to give up on the idea of creativity. It is always worth exploring new ways to inspire a young person, sometimes just when we think that nothing has worked, the young person finds their passion and suddenly all the hard work that has been applied actually pays off and the young person can start to use the tools that previously appeared to be unusable. There are times when it is really like a magic code that suddenly clicks and everything settles in harmony and the young person suddenly can express their ideas and thoughts in a creative way.
How much should music leaders suggest?
In this case, songwriting should really be about the creative journey of the young person. In my personal opinion, music leaders should avoid to imprint their own style preferences, lyric ideas and ways of writing. It is inevitable that a young person might be inspired by their music leader however it is critical that the music leader offers advice and help but leaves the big creative decisions up to the young person. This can guarantee the feeling of ownership, feeling of equality and self-reliance that are all very important for the overall development of the young person.
Ways to inspire:
Awareness of our differences - Inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. It's a good start to reiterate that no idea is bad (good to stay mindful of different cultures though - if it is a group work it is important that all participants feel comfortable with the subject).
Welcoming atmosphere - Sometimes people don't want to be creative because they worry about the opinions of others. If the atmosphere is welcoming, there is more chance that young people will feel inspired to share their ideas.
New Approaches - It is good to literally change a scene – e.g. going to a museum can bring new inspirational thoughts etc.; suggesting books to read, poets to explore; looking in nature for new themes. Even the seasons themselves can be very inspirational (cycle of year as cycle of life, a subject that has been explored for centuries will still feel brand new for creators that are new to songwriting); using magazine cut outs to create lyric ideas; choose a metaphor and explore what mood it could create in a song etc.
Most of the time the only thing standing in a way of someone’s creativity is the person themselves. Learning not to cast a judgment (even on ourselves), learning that mistakes are a natural process of exploration and realising that nothing can be perfect for everyone will help with creative writing and involvement in the arts as a whole!