“Most artists have experienced the creative block. We get stuck in our work. We beat our head against the wall: nothing. Sometimes, it is because we are trying something at the wrong time.” ~ Lukas Foss
Have you been feeling uncreative or uninspired? Did you wake up this morning only to find that you could no longer paint, write, compose, etc.? Are you full of ideas, but none of them seem to amount to anything? If you answered yes to one or more questions, you’re in a creative block.
Creativity plays a more important role than we might think. Parents, for instance, rely on creativity to get their young children to eat vegetables. Teachers seek fun and engaging ways to instruct students. Advertising agencies want fresh concepts that capture people’s attention. What do we do, then, when our creativity is suddenly brought to a halt?
How to Get over a Creative Block
A few years ago, I was in a creative block. As a writer and musician, this was a real problem because I stopped developing new material. My mind drew blanks and my hands became afraid to write or play guitar. What if I ran out of ideas? What if I lost originality? I wasn’t brain-dead since I at least had these thoughts running around. But, there were too many of them, and they sucked out every ounce of creativity I had. If this sounds like you and you want to overcome your block, here are some ideas:
Let go of worry
You didn’t run out of ideas, you’re not an uncreative person, and you’re not a failure. Whatever you do, don’t waste precious time worrying or beating yourself up. Remember your past achievements, as this will show you that you’re still every bit capable. Worrying, on the other hand, drains your energy—energy that could be used for something more productive.
Cut yourself some slack
If you stop yourself before you even start, you’re probably being too critical of yourself. Are you scared of what others might think? What if your idea isn’t good enough? Quit comparing yourself, and don’t worry about being perfect. Instead, focus on getting your ideas out the way that they are, even if they’re raw blueprints. Next, use them, as ideas will only remain ideas if they’re not implemented.
Do not overload yourself with information
Modern technology allows us to access information faster than ever. However, it can be quite disruptive when our minds become overstimulated. News, advertisements, and all kinds of updates are literally in our faces with smart phones and computers. Limit your time and remember to use technology as a tool, not a dependency. Treat yourself by giving your mind the room to come up with its own ideas.
Take a break
You don’t need to travel to some exotic destination. Whether you fly across the continent or walk around the block, get your mind off of your project. You are a creative being and you don’t need a reminder of it every ten seconds. Take some time away from this part of yourself. You could even engage in another activity. Try to embrace whatever you are doing by being consciously present at every moment.
Network with others
The creative process often involves long periods of working alone. Too much alone time, however, can lead to a stagnation or loss of ideas. You might even feel like the lone creative fish in a sea full of stress and doubt. Thus, it’s important to reach out and find others who remind you of who you are and why you’re doing what you do. Ask around, perhaps others are interested or working on the same types of projects as you. Meet for coffee, share your challenges and successes, inspire each other. Perhaps you will find a collaborative partner. You won’t know until you reach out.
Just do it!
Sometimes it’s more exciting to talk about something than it is to actually do it. Other times, it seems better to spend all your time researching or planning. Gather your excitement, research, and plans, and move along. Writer, psychologist, and YouTuber, Ralph Smart, talks about the importance of ‘radical action.’ Radical action means conquering your doubt and fear-based inactivity by simply diving into your project and doing it. Empires weren’t built in a week, and overnight successes are often the result of several years’ work. Exercise your creativity by using it regularly, and it will get stronger.
In short, if you find yourself in a creative block, don’t despair. Highs and lows exist in every aspect of life. Remember the highs and don’t consider the lows to be failures or hindrances to your work. Use them to learn and grow into a better, more creative, you. If you find yourself depressed about your temporary inability to generate material, consider it a call for some downtime. The creative process can take a lot out of people, especially when you reach deep within yourself to harness your best ideas. Build yourself up and remind yourself of your capabilities. Find others with whom you can exchange ideas, and inspire each other. Lastly, get to work. Though you may not feel it’s the ideal time to get started, remember that there will never be an ideal time. Jump into action, be present, and enjoy every moment as your project unfolds.