Productivity

How to Overcome Creative Block

8 min read

Creative block is one of the most annoying things in life.

We’ve all had it happen to us. You’ve got your document open and are ready to write down all of your beautiful ideas, but nothing is coming to mind. Feeling exhausted and lacking motivation is common, especially in situations like this. As I considered what to write about this week, I found myself searching for fresh approaches to feel inspired and creative, which served as the motivation for this piece.

creative block. A tired lady

Fortunately, there are a few tried-and-true techniques for generating inspiration and getting beyond creative roadblocks. Furthermore, you’re in luck because we did the research for you, saving you the trouble of doing it yourself. 

Today, we’ll dive into what causes creative block and proven strategies for overcoming it.

What Does Creative Block Mean and What Causes It?

Having a creative block prevents you from coming up with fresh concepts. It can happen while you’re working on an ongoing project or attempting to come up with something entirely new but aren’t sure what the subject matter should be.

You have a sense of stagnation and emptiness as if your creative well has run dry. Despite your best efforts, you cannot come up with anything original or novel. The following can cause creative block:

  1. Perfectionism
  2. Stress
  3. Working with Tight Time Restraints
  4. Worry about Failure

Maybe later, I will explain how these factors can cause a creative block. But today, I want to focus on getting you out of Creative block.

How to Overcome Creative Block

  1. Step away from your work
  2. Go outside for some time
  3. If you can, sleep on it
  4. Journalling
  5. Break your work into small chunks
  6. Remove distractions
  7. Get Inspired

Step Away From Your Work

Stepping away from your work can help you overcome creative block

Stepping away from the task may be helpful if you’ve been thinking about it for hours. Balance is the key!

Working on too many projects at once can stifle your creativity. If you’re feeling burned out, take some time for yourself and turn everything off for a couple of minutes, hours, or days.

If you’re like most creative people, you often come up with your best ideas while engaged in another activity, such as taking a stroll, a shower, or even using the toilet.

When you take a break, your subconscious thinks about the issue and frequently generates fresh suggestions.

Take time to work on anything else if you have a creative block. What a stroll or bike ride can do for your creativity may surprise you. Before returning to the project with new perspectives and ideas, take a step back and take some time to clear your head.

Go Outside for some time.

go outside to overcome creative block
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It goes without saying that spending time in nature helps us see things differently and feeds our creativity, so get outside! Take a stroll around the block, relax on your preferred park seat, or discover a new neighborhood street. Afterward, you’ll feel better.

A 2014 Stanford study indicated that walking enhanced a person’s creative output by an average of 60%. Since the act of walking itself, rather than the surroundings, was a significant influence, indoor and outdoor walking increased creative inspiration. On the other hand, seated only generated half as many imaginative responses as those walking.

Take a quick walk the next time you experience a creativity block. You could be shocked by the outcomes, whether you use a standing treadmill desk, walk around the block, or work inside.

You might be surprised to find yourself coming up with new ideas while you exercise. With your heart pumping and blood flowing to your brain, you might gain unique insight into the problem that has been stumping you for so long.

If you can, Sleep on it

Sleep can help you overcome creative block

Sleep has also been widely documented as vital for processing all the new information your brain has acquired. Debbie Millman, writer, and artist, even has sleep twice on her amusing list of 10 ways to overcome creative blocks:

  1. Get enough sleep! Sleep is the best (and easiest) creative aphrodisiac.
  2. Read as much as you can, particularly classics. If a master of words can’t inspire you, see number 3.
  3. Color code your library. This is fun, and you will realize how many great books you have that you haven’t read yet.
  4. More sleep! You can never get enough.
  5. Force yourself to procrastinate. Works every time!
  6. Look at the work of Tibor Kalman, Marian Bantjes, Jessica Hische, Christoph Niemann, and Paul Sahre.
  7. Weep. And then weep some more.
  8. Surf the Web. Write inane tweets. Check out your high school friends on Facebook. Feel smug.
  9. Watch Law & Order: SVU marathons. Revel in the ferocious beauty of Olivia Benson.
  10. Remember how L-U-C-K-Y you are to be a creative person to begin with and quit your bellyaching. Get to work now!

Sleep is essential, and I wrote about how helpful sleeping is.

Journaling

Journaling can help you overcome creative block

Save intriguing ideas, sayings, and observations in a notepad. Keep a journal of everything you’ve read, watched, and found fascinating. The benefit of having a journal is that you’ll build up a library of ideas – pages and pages that you can consult when you have a creative block.

Six months ago, I met someone that taught me how to journal and how important journaling is. I won’t say this to the person though, but it has improved my life.

Break Your Work Into Small Chunks

Taking little steps while beginning a new endeavor is crucial because it can feel daunting. The New York Times bestselling author Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird is one of my favorites about writing and creativity. 

Anne offers this incredibly sage advice: “Thirty years ago, my older brother, who was 10 years old at the time, was attempting to complete a bird report that was due the following day and on which he had three months to work.

He sat at the kitchen table, nearly in tears, surrounded by notebooks, pencils, and unopened books about birds when we arrived at our family cabin in Bolinas. He was paralyzed by the enormity of the work at hand. Bird by bird, buddy, my dad murmured as he sat beside him and wrapped his arm around my brother’s shoulder. Simply go bird by bird.

Remove Distractions

Being continually preoccupied makes it challenging to be creative. Deep, concentrated work frequently produces creative output.

Eliminate distractions by creating a distraction-free atmosphere. Turn off your phone and shut down any other applications that can keep you from working. Use Freedom to block websites that will prohibit you from working creatively and distract you.

Close your office door if you have one. Put on headphones and listen to music that blocks interruptions if you don’t have an office.

Get Inspired

inspiration can help you out of creative block
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Sometimes someone else can help you out of a creative block. Take a break from your work so you can be inspired artistically by someone else.

You and your work don’t exist in a vacuum. You’re operating at a time in history when the world is more connected than ever. Take advantage of that. See what others in your specialization or your specific discipline are doing. See what rules they’re breaking. 

Pinterest, Behance, Reallygoodemails, Swapfiles, and so many online platforms allow you to see the work done by other creatives, and they can inspire you! 

Stealing—for learning purposes, anyway—is a great exercise. Classically-trained painters would recreate famous works to learn the art of painting. If you visit many art museums at the right time, you will encounter art students with their easels set up in front of the exhibits, continuing this tradition.

It may seem awkward or odd at first to do your own work in someone else’s style, and that’s the point. It forces you to think differently than you usually would, which can help get you out of your creative rut.

Sometimes all you need to restart work on your own project is a tiny spark of inspiration from someone else.

My name is Tomiwa and I'm very good at three things: WordPress, Marketing & Design.

2 Comments

  1. Aarinola Quadri Reply

    So so good.
    I liked more the “journaling” part and Get “inspired” part too.
    Thank you for this 😊

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