There’s nothing quite like ‘Creative Block.’ As a writer it makes me shudder even typing the words.

There are some amazing books out there that teach you how to work through it, climb over it or beat it into submission, I own most of them. In one such book I discovered an image of Albert Einstein that always makes me laugh – even stopping me in my self-mocking tracks for a few moments.

If I were to stick a ‘how to get over writer’s block’ note somewhere, it would have a little picture of Albert Einstein on it – the one with his tongue sticking out. This black and white image of the world’s most respected and often quoted thinkers poking his tongue out at the camera like a naughty child still makes a statement nearly seven decades after the picture was taken.

It never fails to mess with my train of thought: Why would someone so honoured for his mind want to be captured in such a silly pose? Come to think of it, are there any great minds without some unusual traits? Einstein’s photo reveals something essential about ideas and the people who create them: Great thinkers are not concerned with conforming.

It also shows that, even though he was admired for his brilliant mind, Einstein didn’t actually think he was greater than anyone else. Instead he argued that too often we underestimate our capabilities by looking at ourselves from the wrong point of view. 

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

So here’s my quick fix Unblock-The-Genius-In-You list:

  • Find that picture of Einstein
  • Laugh
    Find something funny to distract you. When I’m caught up in taking myself too seriously, I need to give myself permission to do it out loud.
  • Do something out of order
    Shake up your usual routine a little. Drink a different morning beverage – in a different cup! If you usually work in a confined area, try sitting near a window or an open space. Take a different route than normal, or you may even find your inspiration while walking barefoot in the grass, or while you’re helping someone else doing something unfamiliar. Just do something differently.
  • Call your friend with the purple hair
    We have a tendency to seek input from people who see things as we see them. This means they are least likely to offer a different perspective from the one we already have. Studies of the most successful business leader’s habits reveal they usually have a diverse array of friendships. If you are having a creative block, the last thing you need to hear is an echo of yourself! Instead, seek out the friend who sees things differently to you. And if you are the friend with purple hair, you can call me – mine’s often mousy brown!