It does not matter what it is --a blank word document, an untouched Photoshop canvas, or just a blank page waiting for HTML code -- the feeling has been familiar to what workers in creative fields have been dealing with for millennia—a creative block.
It also does not matter if you are one of the world’s great geniuses or a cubicle drone (or both), creative block has an infuriating tendency to strike anyone at any time.
This bane of creative existence has been around for a long time, so that there is no shortage of writing on the subject, including plenty of “tricks” to deal with supposed solutions to this age-old setback. However, many of these supposed solutions are frustratingly abstract.
If you have been searching for a more tangible way to deal with your creative block, here are 11 refreshingly practical ways that you should try:
1. Assess Your Working Schedule
It is no secret that creativity is an ineffably mysterious, elusive and individual thing. In other words, the creative process is different for everybody, and can easily be influenced by a number of factors, especially when and how you choose to work. Many freelance workers and/or creative professionals have the luxury of setting their own hours, or at least working in a schedule that is much more flexible than most in the professional world.
However, this flexibility is only a luxury if you can make it work for you. If you are experiencing a block, take a look at how you are working and try to think if there is a way that might work better. Experimenting with starting work early in the morning instead of the afternoon or switching from a 9-5 schedule to something less predictable can have surprising effects.
2. Address Personal Problems
Work/life balance is an issue for most professionals irrespective of the field. Even those in creative fields have to deal with personal issues influencing their work negatively. No matter how much you try to compartmentalize, there are some issues that need to be addressed, and finding a solution to seemingly unrelated issues is sometimes a necessary prerequisite to productivity.
3. Stop Spreading Yourself Thin
Having an overly packed schedule is not a new problem, but it is becoming much more common nowadays. Like other resources, creative energy is finite. It may be time to assess how much of effect your voluntary commitments might be having on your energy, and whether it might be time to start saying “no” to potential obligations.
4. Try a Change of Scenery
Just like the time of day can have a powerful effect on creativity, a change of venue can also provide a surprising jumpstart to your inspiration. This type of venue change can involve taking your work to the local coffee shop, or just a trip to the other room.
5. Switch up Your Listening Material
A common perk of creative work is being able to choose the audio accompaniment to your work. Blasting some favored tunes through headphones is very common, and most people’s playlists are fairly varied these days. However, another simple tweak is a variation to your listening material. For example, instead of a change of music, try listening to a podcast instead. The change of mental stimulation could be just what you need to get your creativity flowing.
6. Look at Your Past Work
This is no time to be modest. Take a look at the fruit of your past creativity. Not only could this spark some dormant inspiration, like the kind that inspired your previous work, but it could trigger new inspiration as well.
7. Look at Other Work You Admire
The impetus for much artistic inspiration is seeing what others have done with the art form. While this type of motivation is usually for aspiring creatives, returning to basics can be very helpful when you are stuck.
8. Get Better Sleep
No matter when you work, a lack of sleep can and does lead to a lack of creativity. Sleep is not only important for your mental health, but also for your creative spark.
9. Capture Your Thoughts
You probably know from first-hand experience that great ideas often come out of nowhere. And as much as you think you will remember something, unless you capture it, the thought is invariably elusive. Keep a notebook, or your smartphone, handy and ready to take notes even when you are not working. Try multiple ways to capture your thoughts -- record the conversation using your smartphone, try the good old notebook to take notes or if you are comfortable with technology then there is LiveScribe.
10. Procrastinate On Purpose
Okay, this is something you won't hear often. But often when that spark is just not happening, the best thing you can do is to stop trying, at least for a little while. Once you forget about what you are trying to do and relax, your brain might just surprise you.
11. Be Grateful & Proud
Consider yourself lucky and proud that you are a Creative by profession. Remember, how many people dream of being able to work in a creative field. This might provide you unexpected motivation and get your creative juice flowing as you feel good about who you are and what you do.
You might feel like you have tried everything, including variations on some of the ideas above. However, different things work at different times, and for different purposes. If you are experiencing a creative block, even when it seems like nothing can break through, do not hesitate to try one of these practical ideas. Some of these methods might—and often will—work better than you would expect.
How do you go about getting out of a creative block? Do you have some practical tips that you would like to share in the comments below?