No. 14 | How To Get Over Creative Block
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at my desk ready to take on one of the millions of random ideas I have floating in my head. I open my sketchbook, take a deep breath, and put pen to paper. Then I blank. What am I doing again? Where do I start? Was it even a good idea?
Beware! Creative block can strike at any moment. It’s nasty and turns even the most motivated of us into useless mush. Here are a few ways to get over creative block and conquer your creative projects:
1. WRITE STUFF DOWN.
Keep a list of notes in your phone, a sketchbook, or even sticky notes with you at all times so you’re ready when creativity strikes. I keep my journal by my bed, sticky notes on my desk, and keep an “Ideas List” in the notes app of my iPhone to keep track of the random ideas and thoughts that seem to strike at weird hours of the day. The Evernote app is great for organizing and archiving all the random thoughts you write down.
2. DO THINGS THAT INSPIRE YOU.
Go to an art gallery, read a good book, follow that super cool minimalist interior designer on insta, keep a million Pinterest mood boards. If you want to make good work, finding inspiration is key. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opted to skip an art show or painting workshop because I was overwhelmed by a deadline. This usually leads to me staring at my computer blankly for an hour until I give up to look at my insta feed. If I had just gone to that show, I would have gotten the creative juices flowing and had more innovative, productive work.
It’s not enough to just do inspirational things, our brains need to absorb and process all that intake into something we can translate into our work. To translate inspiration into our creativity, we need to be intentional about our observations. Ask yourself, What about this inspires me? What does this make me feel? what does it mean? Who is affected by this? How can I incorporate this into my art? Blindly copying our heroes and the work the inspires us can lead to mastery of technique but only when we take our observations a step further can we translate outside influence into something that authentically comes from us.
3. SWITCH UP YOUR SPACE.
It’s. All. About. That. Feng Shui.
This happens to be one of my favorite topics — I’ll probably be writing about this topic sometime in the near future. The basic premise of Feng Shui is that the way your space is arranged can really affect how you live, work, feel, sleep, everything. If you’re stuck in the grips of creative block and are unable to emerge from its cold, clammy grip, it may be time to switch up your surroundings. You could opt to visit a coffee shop for a bit, maybe work in the park, at your local library, or maybe switch your room/office around. Try to separate your working space from your rest space. Keep some plants and earthy elements at your desk. Find a chair that makes you sit up straight. Add some calming or awakening colors to your space depending on if you lean towards the anxious or super chill side. Hang up inspiring posters and pictures. Be in a space that makes you want to create. For more info on how to set up your creative space, check out this blog.
4. GET THE BLOOD PUMPING.
Go for a walk. Pump some iron at the gym. Follow an online yoga class on Youtube, this one’s my favorite for boosting creativity. Working out not your jam right now? Just stand up. Do some light stretching. Walk to the kitchen to grab some water. Just take a few minutes to get that adrenaline and heart rate above resting rate. Wake that brain up!
5. USE THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN.
Speaking of your brain, it can be a fickle thing — especially in the idea department. Sometimes we have to realize that the perfect idea just isn’t going to come. When your creative juices aren’t working, it’s not always a bad thing. A lack of creativity can mean that the right side of your brain — the part that loves math and organizing your sock drawer — is really wanting to get productive. Stop beating yourself up about it and give your brain what it needs. Try switching from writing the last line of that poem for the thousandth time to a more analytical or production-focused task like organizing the photos on your computer or balancing your Quickbooks budget or even coloring those illustrations in or resizing and arranging text in inDesign… something that doesn’t require a lot of brain space and relies more on kinesthetic motion. This way you can stay productive and like most creative types, your brain will probably begin to crave more creative work and reboot itself.
6. GET QUIET.
I don’t know about you but this is my biggest source of creative block. When I’m distracted by a million open tabs on my Macbook, constant bombardment from my phone notifications, working on too many projects at once, and the constant swarm of thoughts that rush through my brain, I get so full that I don’t have any room for creativity. I’m still working on this but I’ve started implementing some things that definitely help cut down on distraction.
I usually spend about 5 minutes a day meditating. I’ve turned all of my app notifications off so my phone isn’t constantly buzzing. I downloaded a desktop extension called Block Site to stop me from going on the sites that distract me while I’m creating. I’ve also started going analog for the beginning stages of creating stuff. I’ll think up designs and painting projects in a sketchbook so that most of the work I do on my Macbook is production-focused. I’m also trying setting actual creative appointments in my calendar so I don’t get distracted by personal to do list — I’m still learning how to actually keep these appointments and not keep pushing them back. One step at a time.
So there you go, some ways to kill creative block. Take the ones you think will help you and leave the rest for someone else. But in the meantime, let’s chat! What are some ways you get rid of your creative block? Have you tried any of the tools in this blog? Let me know what you think and good luck on your creative endeavors!
Until next time,