One of the issues that I have thought about for a long time is the conflict between learning and creativity. In some ways, there shouldn’t be a conflict at all. That is, if one sets out to create, one usually learns the things necessary to do creative work. No, the problem is getting into the habit of creativity. Even when I have gotten into creative mode, I find that it’s a struggle to stay in it.
I suppose this is sort of like a version of writer’s block. The difference for me from a writer who has writer’s block is that writing comes ridiculously easy to me. I can just spew out a few hundred words without really thinking about it. Of course, there need to be controls for quality, and I will usually go back and edit my crappy writing multiple times. Nevertheless, I have no shame about putting a first draft out there for everyone to see.
So I guess I have a kind of creator’s block, or maybe a block against doing anything hard. I notice this when I’m practicing guitar. I have no problem practicing songs I already know, but I have a block against learning new songs. This block keeps me from making progress.
Or, say I’m studying a technical topic. I have no problem with reading text, but when it comes time to do problems, I’m reluctant. Should I be reluctant to actually tackle the problems? I think not! What’s the worst that could happen? I could get it wrong, or I could struggle for a while and not make progress. Some of my happiest memories, interestingly, are from when I was struggling with a technical problem, gave up for the day, went to bed, and in the morning, I knew the answer! Why do I fight this pleasurable experience.
Oddly, at work, I don’t seem to have a block like this, even though I program (i.e. create software) for a living. Maybe it’s because at work, I have mastery of tools. Even so, when I’m asked to build something in an unfamiliar programming language, I can suppress my fearand laziness and do it. I think it might have something to do with the fact that my career, salary, and reputation are on the line. At home, for personal projects, the stakes feel much lower, even if they really aren’t. Shouldn’t I give my own personal development the same respect that I give my job?
Does everyone have this sort of block? I look at the highly creative people in the blogpact, and I feel a kind of envy, because I see people who don’t seem to feel blocked in this way. Did you ever feel the block I’m describing? If so, how did you get over it?