If you are a creative, chances are you have encountered a block at some point. It is often talked about as “writer’s block”. but any kind of artist can feel it. You might be blocked right now and searching for a way to overcome it. If that’s the case, you’re in the right place!
Sometimes creating is hard. Some days, the source of inspiration is dry and it feels like we will never produce anything ever again. I know. I’ve been there. Creating is never a flat line. There are bursts, where we produce most of our work, and then there are dry spells. The trick is to avoid staying in the lower part of the curve for too long.
In this article, I talk about five ways that have helped me get back on the creative horse. I hope they help you too!
1. Take a Break
Creative blocks can come from fatigue. In other words, you’ve done a lot lately and your brain needs a break. Whether you’ve just finished a big project or you’ve been stressed with a big deadline at work, your brain just can’t produce anything anymore. It’s absolutely OK! I remembered when I used to write fanfictions: after a series of long stories, I was just too tired to start anything else. I honestly thought I was done, and that I would not write any fanfiction anymore. So I didn’t, for a while. I didn’t do anything creative for a couple of weeks, and I just rested. Then, I had an idea. THE idea, and it was like the wheels started turning again. After that, I wrote my longest story to date (250K words!)
Don’t underestimate the benefits of taking a break from creativity. If you can’t find a new idea or if you have come to hate the project you are currently working on, just hit “pause” for a few hours, days or weeks. See how you feel afterwards.
2. Replenish the Well
Another source of block is that sometimes your engine runs empty. Creativity needs to be fed with outside influences on a regular basis, otherwise you risk re-hashing the same inspirations over and over.
If you are blocked, try feeding your mind with new things. Watch a film you would not normally watch. Listen to a new kind of music. Go see an exhibition that intrigues you. The idea is to get your brain to feel curious again. Curiosity is what gets you out of a block where you just don’t know how to continue a project. Feeding your brain with new experiences might give you a different perspective on an old problem.
3. Exercise Your Creativity
As a writer, the best advice I can give in case of writer’s block is: write write write. It doesn’t matter what, as long as you put a pen on a piece of paper (or your fingers on a keyboard). There are A LOT of small exercises made to make you write. Some ask you to write with your eyes closed, some use word associations, some use journaling. The most important part of these exercises is to do what blocks you on a project that is not important.
You can transpose this to any type of art. If you are blocked, try doing a little project that nobody will ever see. Dare to be as bold as you can, because you’ll be trashing it afterwards. What you are looking for is the sensation of creating without the pressure of it being good. It should alleviate your block, especially if you do it regularly.
4. Build a Routine
A lot of artists wait for “The Muse” to come visit them before they create. The problem is that usually Mr or Mrs Muse is busy elsewhere and doesn’t have much time to give you.
Instead of waiting for inspiration to deign visiting you, make a regular appointment. Build a routine around your art and do it on a regular basis, even if you don’t feel like it. Yes, it means forcing yourself to create from time to time, but it should become easier the more you do it.
5. Talk to Other Artists
Everyone goes through a creative block at some point in their career. Talking about it can make it less difficult or taboo. I find that often the simple action of venting is enough to make me want to write again afterwards. It feels good to see that I’m not the only one struggling.
If you can’t talk to people around you in real life, don’t hesitate to talk with artists online. There are communities that are there to support you and help you through the blocks and obstacles. And when you start creating again, you can help someone else!
What are your best tips to overcome a block? Share them in the comments below!
Céline is an author and podcaster passionate about helping fellow artists reach their potential and live a happy, balanced life.