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How to Overcome Creative Block

Wondering how to overcome creative block? We've all been there... one moment you're creating effortlessly in flow, the next you're utterly stuck. Creative block happens when we overthink and disconnect from our playfulness and instincts, suddenly we feel blank and unsure. It may be we're in our heads about something completely separate from our creativity -maybe we had a disagreement with someone or we're worried about an upcoming move, or it could simply be we're overthinking the work itself or consumed with the idea of getting it "right" and making it "perfect". Whatever it is, I find distracting myself from the present thing I feel stuck on generally gets me out of my head and ideas flowing again. I can thankfully say I now rarely have a day where I feel blocked because I employ some of the tactics I'll outline bellow.

Some tried and tested methods for overcoming creative block:

  • Put your phone on flight mode for the day - be here now.

  • Go for a walk or exercise in nature solo (woods better than a park) -breathe in the forest, feel connected to the plants and the animals as you step through- they know you're there.

  • Meditate (I think it's one of life's jokes that when you're trying to focus on not thinking it can seem like your mind has never been more active, either way meditating helps quiet it, or you'll see creative ideas sprouting up behind your eyelids!).

  • Make a mood board or mind map of ideas. It's nice to do things like this physically but I also highly recommend keeping Trello and Pinterest boards that you can add to whenever an idea pops into your head, then you don't loose them and you can look through them whenever you need some inspo.

  • Listen to Music. -create a playlist of songs that relate to or make you think of the thing you're working on.

  • Do something else. Struggling to decide how to finish that painting? Finding it hard to write that next chapter? Allow yourself a few hours to go and make something else entirely, always wanted to try macrame?! Paint those trainers?! Make a festival outfit?! Or even just paint that shelving unit or re-pot that overgrowing plant? Simply doing something that gets you out of your head will free you up to come back to the issue later. Even if that means you end up playing during the day and working into the evening- better that way around than not getting anything done at all.

  • Listen to an audiobook or read a fiction book (I find fantasy is best) -allow someone else to wrap you up in their imagination, as you're picturing the world they're conjuring for you you yourself are flexing your creative muscles and this allows your own ideas to start flowing again. The nice thing about audiobooks is you can do two things at once, so perhaps take a break from the task you're stuck on and go for a walk or catch up on some household chores while you engage in it's imagined world.

  • Take a Skillshare class or other online class in something related to what you're doing or even totally unrelated to get ideas going.

  • Flip the page -if you're a visual artist working in photoshop- flip the page horizontal- does the composition still work, are the values still reading properly? If working physically- take a photo and look at it on your phone. Just changing your view of something slightly can make problem areas or bits you like stand out, decisions then become easier.

  • If you're a visual artist stuck on a colour scheme- use photos dropped into photoshop or an online colour picker to give you the inspiration. I often do this at the beginning of a year and go through all the photos I'm drawn to, creating a whole library of colour scheme swatches for myself ready to go. It helps make quicker decisions when they're all there ready to experiment with.

  • Watch an inventive TV show or Film -again not something about heading down the pub on a friday night, watch something that's unlike real life, with creative writing and cinematography -I loved the first series of Once Upon A Time for it's surprising creative storylines -same with Shadow and Bone, and Marco Pollo is especially good for it's stunning sets, cinematography and colour grading- (particularly the end fight scene- those purples and yellows omg).

  • Listen to an engaging podcast, it could be related to what you're doing or totally unrelated, either way, if it's stimulating it's going to get your imagination going.

  • Play and be silly. Play is at the heart of creativity. If you're struggling to feel playful consider joining an acting or improv group -improv is brilliant for unblocking because it doesn't let you overthink anything, you have to stay present and go with whatever is given to you in the moment and just roll with it, but any kind of play that gets you out of your head and into the moment is fab, take a dance class or play a board game or word association game with friends!

  • Go wild camping with friends. There's something magical about being out in nature, away from loads of people with a clear eyeline to the moon and the stars -I challenge anyone not to feel inspired.

  • Take a (timed- otherwise you'll wormhole) scroll of inspiring creatives on instagram and create a saved inspo collection or a have a nose around Pinterest and create a Pinterest board. Be mindful and maybe put screen time limits on so this doesn't turn into hours of procrastination (......we've all been there).

To summarise, the key ingredient to overcoming creative block is simply to do whatever you can to get out of your head and back into play mode- even if that means temporarily distracting yourself from the present task.

Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Big Magic and Eat Pray Love) talks about creativity being something spiritual, something divine that flows through you rather than being created by you and once you let go of the idea it belongs to you, that you are simply a vessel -you can find freedom in your work...

I'm not sure I necessarily buy into this but I do think it's a good concept to mull over and perhaps metaphorically relinquishing ownership can help us quell the fear that our creativity may not be "good enough" and help us step out of our comfort zones. ⚡

Anyway I hope some of the above tactics help you overcome your creative block either now or in the future and if you find them useful please do share with anyone else you think could benefit 🌈


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