Creative Blocks For 20 Somethings

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Remember when you could predict what was holding you back? Your teeth were not white enough, your skin not tan enough, your skills not good enough, or your car not fast enough. These seemed to be the major things that were holding us back. But trying to predict the things that will hold you back in the 21st century is about as easy as predicting when the cubs will win the world series. (FYI: Never)

The creative blocks that 20 somethings face look different then what writers, musicians, pastors, or artist face. Most 20 somethings don’t even know what category to put themselves into let alone what creative block they are facing. Instead, 20 somethings face gigantic creative mountain blocks that only gets bigger the more we dream and desire. With all the different set backs 20 Somethings face in today’s society (poor job market, me syndrome, debt, no direct) the creative block that sits in front of us all is enough to force anyone to give up and go home. But every 20 something can move past creative blocks by trusting in the future.

It was a normal day for every car on interstate 64, well almost every car. My car was a bit more special then anyone else. It was late October and I was on my way to Nashville in my 1998 Ford Ranger. Loaded down with everything I owned in my truck bed, I was setting out on an adventure that had no outcome. I was moving. I had a lot of time to think as I drove that long and boring interstate. I had flashbacks to when I was a kid sitting on a school bus headed to school. In those moments all I could think about was how much I wished I was the adult in the car next to me or the person sitting outside on their front porch. I wanted to be anyone but me in that moment. And as I was snapped back to reality from the lady on the GPS telling me to veer left, I was faced with a decision. This spot of the highway was where highway 64 and 57 merged. The temptation was to exit at the Mt Vernon exit. You see that is not the way to Nashville, the Mt Vernon exit is where my grandparents live. It could be my exit plan, my chance to do anything but move to Nashville. As the exit grew closer and my heart started to race, I was faced with all kinds of decisions. Decisions that would greatly affect my future, my plans, and my development. My creative mountain was getting over the fear that I did not know what was to come next.

You might be like me, scared to death of what is to come next. Or maybe you know where you are going but have no clue how to get there. We all face different creative blocks. But there is one creative block that we all face. This creative block is more like a creative mountain that we will face (and continue to face) everyday. And that creative mountain is ourselves. As Steven Pressfield calls this mountain, “the resistance“. The resistance is ourselves. It will always be ourselves. But instead of moving beyond this we get tripped up because we are looking to external detractors rather then ourselves. Understanding that we are single handily the greatest barrier and yet solution to our creative block could be the very thing we need to hear and understand.

But, why see this in such a negative way? You are not reading this to walk awaydepressed. There are inspiring stories out there that show us it is possible to move past resistance and creative blocks. Stories of such great people like Oprah, who was fired many times in her 20’s for being viewed as “unfit for tv” but later went on to be one of the most iconic women of all time. Or Henry Ford who failed numerous business that left him broke only to later go on and start the biggest car manufacture of its time. Or how about blog post like this one from Seth Godin about How to Fail or a manifesto for 2o somethings from Edward Paz. There are tons of stories out there that inspire us to tackle these mountains more like speed bumps in the road of life.

Here are three things that can help you when you face creative blocks/mountains as a 20 something:

1. See The Big Picture

Seeing the bigger picture will keep you focused. It will help you realize that this is much bigger then you and the moment. Realizing that no one is meant to accomplish everything by the age of 25 can be the very thing that can help you get out of bed in the morning. It is important to keep reminders of what is to come and the hard work that it will take to get there. Understanding the big picture will help move past the no’s, set backs, and frustrations that are to be ahead of you.

2. Never Stopping

What is the best way to finish a race? Never stop running. Sounds simple, but anyone that has run any sort of race understands just how hard it can be. But life as a 20 something often is more like a marathon then a spring. And understanding that little set backs are not enough to stop you from moving forward can be the very thing that gets you to the next mile marker. Being able to make an agreement with yourself that nothing will hold you back from pursuing the future is the very thing that can help you in the present.

3. Give Up

This seems so elementary and yet I feel like most never grasp the truth found inside. When you quit you cannot go forward, all you can do is go backwards. So giving up the marathon will do exactly what you are looking to do…quit. We have to give up giving up. Ya that is grammatically correct. We have to decide that we are not going to give up but in fact remove the word quit from our vocabulary. The scary thing is most will quit by the age of 25 and relegate their life to hating their job, feeling like they are missing out, and never being apart of something bigger then themselves. All of that because they decided that the fight, the marathon, was not worth them pushing forward and giving up giving up.

20 Somethings will change the world. Never before has a generation had more technology, opportunity, and ability then 20 somethings do today. Yes, 20 somethings will change the world, everyone is waiting to see which direction it will change. What do you say? How about we change the world?

Question: As a 20 something (or a former 20 something) how have you gotten past creative blocks for your future?


This blog post is a part of a synchro-blog that is tackling the issue of creative blocks. It is one of many post written today that deal with creative blocks. Below you will see a list of participants that have also written post for you to check out. You MUST read every single one. It will be the best thing you did all day. Go. Read. Discover.

Be sure to click the “Read More About Contributors Here” graphic.

Bryan Allain Creative Blocks In Blogging

Pete WilsonBlocked Or Empty

Rachel Held EvansWriters Block

Keith JenningsSuffering Creative Block?

Matthew Paul TurnerA Letter To Christianity From Creativity

Mandy StewardThe Block Pays You A Visit

Stephen Brewster-Creative Block In Church Creativity

Sarah CunninghamDreaming Blocks

Jeff GoinsWhy Creative Blocks Aren’t Always Bad

Kyle ReedCreative Block For 20 Somethings

Carlos Whittaker-Creative Block In Music

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Kyle Reed

Posts Twitter

I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Mandy Steward

    “The creative mountain of ourselves.” Isn’t that the truth? Owning that makes a big difference in our creativity potential. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • @kylereed

      thanks mandy, appreciate that

  • Jeff Goins

    I love the tip to give up. Sometimes, the best thing we can do with creativity is quit — the wrong things, that is. We creatives have so many ideas that it’s hard to give up on the not-so-good ones, but that’s how we get to the best stuff. Quitting is highly underrated. A great book on that is the Dip by Seth Godin. Love that little 60-page book. Genius.

    • @kylereed

      yes, quitting is usually the very thing that we need to do we just do not know it

  • Sarah Cunningham

    @Kyle Cheers to giving up giving up. (Yeah. I said it back to you.) :)

    • @kylereed

      oh no, now I am confused :)

  • Darrell Vesterfelt

    This is good Kyle — I have really pressed into the never quitting thing.  Also number one is really humbling, but after becoming weary a few times before i turned 25 I think i have finally learned this lesson.

    • @kylereed

      number 1 is always the hardest. I struggle with patience and it is tough to really hold onto the big picture and not the circumstance 

  • Ben Reed

    “What is the best way to finish a race?  Never stop running.”  

    Simple, but brilliant, Kyle.  So many of my great (um…that’s a bit of a stretch…let’s call them “good”) ideas have come after many failed attempts.  I’ve had tons of bad ideas, but I just kept going.  In fact, the vast majority of my ideas are trash…but every once in a while, a gem surfaces.  I understand that failure is a part of the process, even though it’s hard in the moment.  

    • @kylereed

      exactly. If all great ideas were on the surface everyone would have them…you have to dig and not quit

  • Anonymous

    Kyle, spot on! Your analogy with a marathon is true. I’ve completed several full-marathons and more than a dozen half-marathons and the key to finishing is to keep going. More often than not the toughest barriers to overcome are mental. Nicely done!

    • @kylereed

      absolutely. fight or flight

  • Edward Paz

    Great post Kyle!

    (And thanks for the shout out!)

    I have a “creative cycle” that I have been using to help me overcome my creative blocks. I’ve noticed that if I identify where on the cycle I need to focus, I can keep my creative juices flowing!

    Keep up the great work bud!

  • MichaelDPerkins

    I’m so in on changing the world man.

    • @kylereed

      that is awesome and you are doing it

  • Anonymous

    As a 20 something, I have creative blocks daily. Thanks for this post Kyle. I’m going to change the world, but it’ll take a lot to get there. 

    Speaking of changing the world, I was told by a member of my Facebook community and  close friend, the other day that “I am impacting the world. Crazy right? I didn’t even have any idea that my photography was impacting the world. So much so as to win a contest between 15 other people on ChurchMag. CRAZY! Shocked me to death. 

    • @kylereed

      that is right, i saw that. Congrats man. 
      Well deserved

  • Jonathan Jacob

    I just turned 22 on Tuesday, and can say that this post is spot on. I’m one of those 20 somethings that doesn’t really know where  they’re going, but just actively trusting God. It really does help to see the big picture, and understand that failure is inevitable. You just got to keep going and believing in whatever your doing.

    • @kylereed

      absolutely. I think the biggest thing as well is to catch on doing one thing. to focus on that and do it really well. Often times we like to throw our rope out there and hope it lands somewhere. But finding a place to connect and then staying with that is huge. Find out who you are and you will be on your way.

  • Chris Cornwell

    I’m loving this man! As a communicator and writer, I don’t necessarily think of myself as a creative type. That’s reserved for the design/media guys. But as I’ve been pouring through all these posts, I am really connecting with somethings being said. Thank you again!

    • @kylereed

      Bro, you are absolutely a creative. Make sure you do not ever say that around Carlos, or actually say that around him so that he can whip that thought right out of your head. You are a creative, everyone is a creative. Some of the most creative people are the ones that communicate and write. You, We, are artist.

      • Chris Cornwell

        Brilliant words of encouragement bro. Thank you!