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Inspiring Creativity

The Buddy Approach to Getting Creatively Unstuck

Partnering with Fellow Creatives

By Rick Benzel | Updated September 1, 2018

Creativity-halting goo can sometimes be thick and viscous, and getting out of it on your own is just not possible. Your inner artist is going nowhere, spinning its wheels, like a car stuck in mud or snow. Sometimes you need a "buddy" to get unstuck, a colleague who can push or pull you out, by listening to you and perhaps by sharing some ideas. Simply talking about your creative block with another person is often enough to get you going again because in the process of articulating your ideas to someone else in a non-judgmental conversation, you can often stumble upon a fresh way to explain your concepts or an insight you didn't have before.

The Buddy Approach is best done with a partner who is, like you, a creator and thus can understand the artistic difficulties you may be going through. It is best not to choose a family member or spouse based simply on the fact that he or she knows you well. This can backfire, causing more problems than it solves if you do not like the advice the person gives you. Instead, select as your buddy an artistic peer, someone who does the same type of art as you or even someone who works in an entirely different art.

The Buddy Approach is useful for several reasons. First, your colleague's comments and listening provide an outside view of your work that can be beneficial when you are lost in your own ideas. The buddy may see the proverbial tree through the forest that has become your mind. Secondly, a buddy can help you silence your inner critic, by being more sympathetic, encouraging, or just plain honest in telling you that your ideas are fine, keep working. Finally, if you are willing to listen, a buddy may have suggestions to enhance your own ideas or that provide you with solutions to your creative problem.

Many artists are reluctant to share their work with others before it is completed, and that is understandable. However, there are times when there is nothing better than a colleague or friend whose shoulder you can lean on in a time of need. Artists who shy away from making community with others may be missing out on the valuable resources that other artists can provide. One way to combat a reluctance to talk to other artists is to take a class. Even if you decide not to share your ideas with others, you can listen to other people sharing ideas and vicariously partake in an extended buddy system that supports you in the background.

Next: The Matrix Approach

©2005 Rick Benzel. All rights reserved.