How to overcome a creative block?
A creative block is a neglected sibling of our creative spark. It sits in a darkened corner of our mind seeking some attention. Our task is to overcome it.
Having worked as a creative freelancer for 10 years, I have learned to remain productive by eating well and getting enough downward dog.
To access creative realms, I have learned to observe and to discipline myself. I know that if I don’t get enough exercise, my body starts to suffer. I become moody and I lack concentration. Creating feels like an activity I have to wade through rather than flow with.
Over the years, I have learned to equip myself with tools to work through my emotional ups and downs—to overcome creative blocks.
These tools are meditation, yoga, diary writing, education, time, and the moon. They allowed me to develop a fuller relationship with my creativity.
Here is how I find balance in my creative endeavors using these tools:
1. Turn to learning.
I save some time in my diary to learn about some new topics. I explore more about my art when reading an online course or watching YouTube videos.
The more I learn, the more I become inspired to create. I can get the chance to achieve something and to overcome the frustration of a block.
2. A block is only a block if we call it that.
The word “block” throws up images of walls, roadblocks, building pressure, and agitation. In reality, we do not know if we mean to use this word.
What if it’s not a block at all? What if it’s a natural transition we have to pass through to take the next action? What if it’s creativity in the making?
3. Create a pool of ideas.
When I am feeling in the flow of creativity, I save some of this energy to generate new ideas. I draw a list of ideas I can read anytime when I feel blocked or when I need to provide creativity on-demand. It’s like a pool that I can jump in to fish out new ideas to get back to work.
4. Write about yourself.
One of the most useful things to regain my creativity is to write about myself. I often write about my moods, my emotions, my wishes, my failures, and my futures. I might sound self-indulgent, but I can look back at a certain period in my life and read what my thoughts were at that time.
With this technique, I begin to recognize behavioral cycles. I have a better grasp of the creative and emotional patterns I rise and fall through. I can almost devise a way to predict the peaks and troughs.
5. Follow the moon.
I started to pay close attention to the moon when I took up yoga. I became aware of the new and full moon periods as I knew they would impact my emotions. I started to focus on the 14 and 28-day cycles of the moon rather than the standard calendar. It altered my entire working pattern as I felt more in tune with natural rhythms.
I create a piece of art for each new and full moon. This routine seems perfect for generating ideas. Plus it helps me use the burst of creative energy I experience over these periods. Aside from our daily routine, we can rely on natural cycles to boost our working habits and creativity.
6. Remember we are not machines.
Any alternative to a creative block should not bring pressure. We should not demand too much of ourselves. The more we need the ideas, the more stressed we become, and it is less likely the ideas will come to us. It’s a vicious circle, and it leads to nowhere, except further frustration.
Some of my suggestions might seem a little odd, daunting. What works for one might not work for others. Remember that we are creatures of the earth.
Sometimes, we need to give our minds some time to catch up. The best is to go easy on ourselves. Sometimes in high-pressure creative jobs, people ask too much of us. We need to remember that we are not machines. We can’t treat creativity as a production item—it doesn’t work that way.
Our approach to overcoming creative blocks should be holistic. If there is a creative glitch, it’s unlikely to have anything to do with creativity. It is more likely to do with an aspect of ourselves that stays in the shadows.
The more we learn about ourselves, the more we can understand our personal rhythms. We can understand the behaviors that affect our creative output and well-being. We need to learn to overcome creative blocks from the inside out.
Author: Matthew Witt
Image: @ele Instagram
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Social Editor: Emily Bartran