These moments. We all have them from time to time. When you’re creative juices don’t want to flow. You’re staring at an empty canvas. You can’t seem to get past the first two words. You’re frozen in your chair. Thoughts swirling through your mind but they have nothing to do with your task. All creatives know it like an old friend. The adversary of inspiration. The one who always appears in the most inconvenient moments. We all dread it but we can’t avoid it. Creative block is difficult to deal with but there are some things you can do to break through it.
What causes a creative block?
There are many things which can cause a creative block. It’s different for everybody. Most often it creeps on us when we push too hard. When we’re forcing ourselves from deadline to deadline. Taking on more projects than we can handle without taking a break. Not getting enough sleep and eating poorly as a result. We burn ourselves out.
Routines can be your friend or your enemy. On one side, they’re necessary to help us stay in a creative flow. Great creative work is always the result of doing the same process over and over again. On the other side, routines can make us feel forced and stuck. We need to switch them up regularly, improve them, or even ignore them from time to time. If you limit yourself too much, you might end up with a creative block.
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How can you overcome a creative block?
At first, it’s important to recognize the signs. If you know what exactly causes creative block for you, you can act to prevent it. Setting yourself reminders to take regular breaks. Only taking on a limited number of projects. Of course, we can never completely avoid a creative block from happening. If you feel it’s creeping up on you, here’s what you can do.
Get a second opinion
Sometimes, you’ve worked for so long on a project that you’re incapable of detaching yourself. You can no longer see if it’s good or if you’ve taken it too far. A second opinion is what you need in this situation. Somebody who is neutral and can give you his opinion. It can be very helpful to talk to somebody. Once we start talking out loud, instead of only brewing over it in our heads, we automatically sort our thoughts. This can help us to come up with the solution to our problem. Find the missing piece.
Work on something else
If you find yourself in a one-way street and you’re no longer moving either forward or backward it’s time to distract yourself. Do not pass go. Do not collect any more inspiration (you’ve already spent enough time on Pinterest). Go directly on to a different project. Stepping out of a situation you’re stuck in and focusing on something else will give your head a little break. Your brain will still work on it even while you’re occupied with other things. Most of the time it won’t take long before you can go back to your initial project with new ideas and inspiration.
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When you can’t concentrate because you’re doing too many things at the same time. You’ve got 50 tabs open and you’re constantly checking Facebook it’s clear you can’t focus. Disconnect yourself. Put your phone on “Do not disturb” and kill all distractions around you.
Going outside for a walk can help too. Fresh air and moving your body is the best way to come up with new ideas. If you’ve been sitting at your computer all day long you might be in desperate need of this little break. Take a walk outside and take your time to look at your surroundings. Every impression you can soak up can help you to move forward and feel inspired again. The oxygen will kickstart your system. Once you come back you’ll see your creativity flows easily.
Change your perspective
This is a great little trick for when you don’t know where to start. Sometimes we’re stuck because we aren’t able to focus. The angle from which we look at our project is too big. We need to limit ourselves by zooming in. Imagine yourself looking at a photograph. You can see a landscape. Now you have to take a closer look to see every element inside this photo. Grass, trees, a hilltop in the back. But you have to zoom in even more. In one of the trees, you’ll find a tiny, blue feathered bird, sitting on a lower branch. This bird is where you need to start.
Starting with the smallest detail or the tiniest little step makes the whole task seem less overwhelming. Once you get this first little thing done, the next step will fall naturally into its place. Instead of writing a blog post, start with one small sentence or even one word.
Have you tried one of these tips? Or do you have other exercises to conquer creative block? Let me know in the comments!