[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Inspiring Creativity

The Hero Approach to Getting Creatively Unstuck

Finding a Luminary in Your Field

By Rick Benzel | Updated September 1, 2018

One of the most intriguing ways to learn how to get unstuck is to find yourself a hero, that is, a luminary in your field after whom you might model yourself. If you are a writer, pick a living or historic writer whose life or work you admire. Read everything you can find about the person, including his or her work habits, thoughts on the writing life, and problems with writing that may be similar to yours. Then, each time you sit down to write and especially each time you get stuck in the goo, ask yourself, "What would [insert name of your hero] have done about this situation?"

The value of the hero approach is that it spotlights for you a work ethic and commitment to quality that you will slowly internalize as your own. Finding a hero among the greats of the creative world — whether it be Michelangelo, Monet, Mamet, or Maroon Five — builds your self-esteem and your passion for art, both of which are instrumental in defeating your inner critic and helping you get unstuck.

In addition, as one of the other articles in this Anthology points out (see Michael Mahoney's The Hero Within: Using the Mythic Journey to Discover Meaning in Your Creative Work), you are effectively a hero in your own creative journey, which requires you to survive many battles with the evil forces of non-creativity. In order to return victorious from your journey, you must think of yourself as a hero, with courage, ambition, and daring to get through the combat. But as your own hero, even you need allies, and the best ones are those who have made the journey before you. They know the danger zones, the pitfalls, and the secrets to coming out alive.

However, be careful about selecting a hero and turning him or her into an object of negative comparison for yourself. It is not productive to make an accomplished artist your hero if the person constantly reminds you of your lack of commercial success. Choose your heroes based on their human qualities and the values they bring to their craft, not based on how famous they are or how much money they made. Make them real heroes in your work, not celebrities you blindly worship.

The Hire-a-Professional Approach

The last approach to getting out of creativity-halting goo is, of course, to hire a creativity coach. Like hiring a doctor when you are sick, a lawyer when you need legal advice, or an accountant when you need your taxes done right, a creativity coach can fashion a comprehensive program for your specific stuckness — i.e., the nature of your goo, its thickness, stickiness, how deep in it you are, and so on. A creativity coach is trained to analyze your concerns and problems, and to work with you to devise solutions that get you out of the quagmire and back into happy, productive creating again. A coach can help you decide which of the approaches above — or many others they may have created themselves — might work in your situation

You can find creativity coaches at the Creativity Coaching Association, which lists coaches available to artists and creators in many locations throughout the world. Coaches can also work with you by email and phone, so you are never far away from having professional assistance available to you to analyze your creative problems and propose solutions to get you unstuck. •

Next: It's Not What You Create, It's That You Create

©2005 Rick Benzel. All rights reserved.