Experiencing a creative block? Most artistic professionals have experienced this at some point in their careers. But we all have creative minds — problem solving is a form of creative thinking, and we all get stumped on problems from time to time. Well, my friend let me introduce you to a little word called Interleaving.
in·ter·leave / ˌin(t)ərˈlēv / verb
gerund or present participle: interleaving
insert blank pages between the pages of (a book). “books of maps interleaved with tracing paper”
TELECOMMUNICATIONS • COMPUTING: mix (two or more digital signals) by alternating between them.
You’ll see this in the learning process, and in school. Study some material for a set period of time, leave your desk to do some other thing, and then come back to continue.
It’s like taking a break between work. Some people use them. I get away from the screen, take a long walk with my dog if he lets me without yanking my arm off. Some people go and play on their phone for 15 minutes straight, and loiter through social media.
Other people don’t take breaks and work straight through it.
What does this have to do with my creative process?
When your creative juices come to a halt, nothing useful comes out of your brain except for farts of frustration. Staring at the problem for too long can add friction to your creative thinking. Sometimes your brain just really isn’t feeling it…
Creative blocks stop us in our productivity train tracks. They’re no fun to have and we’re all searching for ways to cure it ASAP! Where’s the freakin’ gold?
The answer is: it’s in your subconscious. We’ll talk about this in a sec. So how do you get past a creative block with interleaving?
It teaches you how you can re-wire your neural pathways and reinforce them by practising a few small methods. The overarching goal is to solidify whatever you’re currently learning.
How to use interleaving to remove a blockage in your creative flow
Interleaving is a process by which you take frequent breaks between sessions of learning to help solidify concepts just ingested. Like the definition suggests, you’re going back and forth between two frequencies. Imagine switching your brain between two different gears, or switching between two different activities. Actually, that’s exactly what it is… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The gold is in our subconscious. We have to remind ourselves that our conscious mind is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our full conscious. The biggest part of our thoughts are submerged beneath in the unconscious. And we need to tap into this goldmine!
3 easy steps to tapping into the goldmine through interleaving
1. Work. Create. Innovate.
Or try to. Try for at least 30 minutes. Make sure you accomplish at least one task. Something very important: don’t feel like you need to be proud of what you accomplished during this time.
2. Interleave session.
Leave your desk, phone, and all your other screens. Do something you consider fun, and I mean it. Something that you don’t consider as work. Pick up your side hobby.
Find something stimulating that forces your brain to improvise, and not just observe (aka please do not surf social media on your phone or watch TV for this session). I made a list for you further down of ideas on what you could do while interleaving. So keep reading!
3. Return to creating.
Come back to your work some time afterwards. But don’t wait too long before going back to your work, I wouldn’t wait longer than a day.
Repeat from step 1. Continue with mini-successes.
Things you can do during your interleaving session
You should really do whatever you feel like doing on your break. But here’s a list to give you a few ideas:
- Go for a walk, jog or intense workout
- Play with your pet, do a training session with him/her
- Doodle, paint, or better yet, doodle or paint outside
- Clean up your kitchen, living room or other living area
- Read a book
- Learn a new language
- Cook a new recipe
- Play a sport
- Write in your journal
- Listen to music
- Throw a solo dance party in your bedroom, kitchen, living room
What’s your current life situation?
I don’t want to ignore this important factor because it could be affecting your creative flow. If something devastating just happened in your life, or you’re experience some kind of self-doubt, it may be preventing you from thinking clearly.
If this is the case, it would be a good idea to step back from your work to tend to your situation. It’s a whole other can of worms to talk about, but I’ll save it for a later date. ?
In conclusion, interleaving is the process by which you leave your work session to perform a different task. Preferably a hobby that is different from your current work.
Staring too hard at the problem at hand can create friction in your creative stream. Taking the pressure off and doing something very different during your break time can allow your mind to re-approach the problem differently.
This was how I was able to get past the biggest creative block of my lifetime. I had a very creative mind years ago when I was a wee little girl. I was drawing every day and felt so much joy to have such an artistic talent. But as soon as adulthood hit, drawing appeared to become more of a waste of time to me. I couldn’t bring myself to draw anymore because if I spent too much time on it I felt guilty. And if I spent any time on it and something looked horrible, I beat myself up about it. I no longer considered myself to be an artist.
After clearing my head and getting to work, making one small success at a time – and not feeling bad it if it didn’t look great, I’m finally confident in continuing with creating on a frequent basis.
Have you ever experienced a creative block? Do you have your own ways of overcoming them? Let me know and write me back in the text box below. If you decide to try and use this idea in your creative process, let me know.