Overcome the Creative Block – Advice from an Artist

How to overcome a creative block

Frustrating and time consuming, creative blocks are part of the creative process. Here are a few tips that I have found to help.

timeout1. Take Time Out. If you have kids, had kids or are still a kid at heart yourself you know the concept of time-outs. One of my kids was and still is ADD. No matter how many times I’d say ‘quit, stop, settle down…it didn’t work. I had to remove him entirely from the situation in order for him to chill out and refocus.

As adults and especially when stuck in a creative block instead of hanging your head low and falling into a depression trying to think through a creative solution, it’s better to take a time out. Walk away, stop thinking about it. Turn off the mental visuals and refocus on something entirely different. Walking away in and of itself is almost as much as a challenge as breaking through the creative block. However it’s a great way to get out of the visual rut that has you stuck.

tired12. Check your vitals. Sleep deprived, hungry, no exercise? Taking care of your physical needs can be a fix to get you back on track for productivity. When working through large and tedious projects I’ll skip meals and stay firmly planted in my chair forgetting to take the stretch breaks. This only works for so long. Before long my marathon work sessions turn into creative blocks. Check your vitals, listen to your body and take a break before you crash.

island3. Get off your island.
 If you’re like most artists or designers, you thrive on alone time and working independently. It’s actually very difficult to create and work on projects with interruptions and chaos. You need your own quite space. However this quite space can get lonely and you can feel isolated especially when your stuck and need some help. One of the good things of working for someone else are the team collaborations and convenience of brainstorming with a coworker in the next cubicle.

As a solo worker you need to make more of an effort to connect for collaborations. Luckily there are countless ways to make connections to others in the creative field. Online forums, social media groups, Meet-ups and more. 
A great way to get past the creative block is to build bridges from your island to others.

fill-up4. Fill up on inspiration. Just like an athlete needs to be hydrated before a race an artists or designer needs a good source of ‘inspirational nourishment’ before and during projects. Find, gather and hoard the things that inspire you. Bookmark your favorite inspiration websites, have good sources for visuals. Read your favorite blogs for ideas. I use to have a Morgue, which was a large file folder with various photos I found interesting and inspiring. I collected them and organized according to topics. When I needed inspiration for a particular subject I had a visual to look at.

Currently I find inspiration online and in nature. I take a lot of photos, capture ideas in my sketchbook, collect natural elements and more.

Above all, don’t force it. Creative blocks are an ebb and flow. Lean into it, trust your process, step away when you need to. Don’t fear that you’ll never get your vibe back. You will.

Frustrating and time consuming creative blocks are part of the creative process.
How do you overcome creative blocks?


1 Comment

  • All great ideas and ones I’ve also found to work.
    Sitting at a computer all day definitely requires me a “park day” to get my blood pumping and give me some new scenery.
    Getting “out” with new people keeps the creative juices flowing, too.
    I will admit that most of my best ideas come in the shower or while driving–when I’m doing a habitual task and my mind is free to wander a bit!

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