How do you get unstuck?

A colleague asked me “what do you do when you lose your groove while facilitating / graphic recording?” Losing my creative flow state happens to anyone creative, so what do you like to do?

Managing creative flow when I’m thrown off in the moment – is about how I manage my triggers. There will be many times when I am thrown off by a hurtful comment, a stressful situation or my own anxiety, or those deeper triggers about being seen as “wrong” or ignored.

I have a variety of techniques that I am constantly working on, including deep breathing, mindfulness, and other practises so when I am thrown off, I come back to centre much faster under pressure. I’m still a beginner. But in general: breathing, noticing what is around me, naming and touching things to bring me back to center, doing my inner work about knowing myself and about tough topics (ahem, white fragility), meshing, shifting my state in the moment with movement or curiosity or even finding the funny part.

For extra context, all the tech we need for our online meetings (facilitation, graphic facilitation) is demanding at the best of times, plus the extra pressure to ‘perform’ creatively in much shorter meetings. The work requires deep listening and ultra focus – but somehow also staying connected to a bigger field at the same time.

We are our own hardest critics, and it could also be that my in-the-moment-panic/losing my groove wasn’t noticed yet by others. Maybe. Maybe not.

It is also good practice to pause. Move away from the work, and gain perspective. Zoom out. Can someone understand what is the topic by only looking at the pictures? Or the questions? Don’t get too lost in too many details/impossible perfection.

Then there’s this other part about creative work being a muscle. This longer term muscle building helps in the moment when things slip up. It used to take me hours to get ready / feel creative / get into my flow state. But now if I need to access that and draw something, I can drop Into it much easier (Oh, I still procrastinate wildly on writing though). Thanks Twyla Tharp for her book on creative practices there, including getting set up at the end of day for the next days work. Super appreciate the conversation Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg and Reilly Dow and I had about this on Twitter too.

And always, always – remember that graphic recording or facilitation or your creative practices are about being in relation. Don’t assume and guess – when we can ask for help we should ask. Ask people to help – because when we co create things, they are more meaningful and full of potential we could never do alone.

What about you? How do you get unstuck?

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