How to Break Through a Creative Block
August 31, 2015
You stare at the blank screen. The vast emptiness taunts you – tormenting you with a challenge to fill it with something magnificent. But you just can’t… It’s too much pressure.
Ah, creative block.
Every artist struggles with it at some point. It’s the curse of working within an creative field, whether you’re a painter, writer or entrepreneur.
But you’ve got to overcome it.
The growth of your business relies on your ability to conquer this setback. Today, we’re going to discuss how to break through creative blocks. By the end of the article, you’ll be well-equipped to push through these challenges on your own in order to create something remarkable.
First, Acknowledge the Block for What it Is
I’ll never overcome a block unless I first acknowledge it. Otherwise, I’ll find myself in creative denial. And trust me, trying to convince yourself that you’re not blocked is far more dangerous than the block itself.
Instead, I accept it. Only then can I work to overcome it.
Don’t try to hide from the block or ignore its existence. It’s there, trying to hinder your progress and success. Accept that and you can conquer it in no time.
Then, Implement Some of These Techniques
Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, it’s time to take steps to overcome it. Seasoned creatives often have their own tricks that they’ve developed over the years.
But even the most experienced creatives need ideas for new techniques from time to time.
And that’s why I’ve put together these five techniques. I’ve used each of them over the years, and they’ve helped me conquer my biggest blocks. I hope that as you apply them to your routine, you’ll find that they work for you as well.
Use just one of these or combine them if you still can’t seem to push through.
1. Don’t Wait for Inspiration to Strike
James Clear shares a story of a conversation he had with Todd Henry, a successful author who publishes great work on a consistent basis.
James seemed to feel a bit discouraged about the questionable value and inconsistency of his work. So, he started explaining his situation to Todd…
I bet you can relate to the problems James faced. I know I did. And based on the friends I talked to, it’s a pretty common feeling among creatives.
In my own life, I’ve found that creating a schedule (much like Todd did) helps me feel creative everyday. If I know that I’m going to write 1,000 words at 8am, then my mind is prepared to create at that time everyday.
The routine helps. Give it a try.
2. Go for a Walk Around the Neighbourhood
It seems that I get blocked the most when I have too much on my mind. Instead of creating, I’m worrying about 10 other things that I need to do. My brain feels all tangled and knotted, and I can’t seem to stay focused enough to work on the task at hand.
At this point, it’s a futile attempt to push through. So, I step away and go for a walk.
It’s all about getting out of your head and into the world around you.
You’ll feel reenergized when you get out of your chair and pay attention to the shops, houses, sidewalks, people and nature all around. It’s an escape from your confining workspace and a great way to clear your mind of the monotonous tasks and worries.
3. Conduct Research and Ask Questions
If you feel stuck in the middle of a project, it could be that you don’t have enough information. Let’s say you’re working on a design… You could jumpstart your creativity by asking questions like:
- What does the audience feel?
- What do they desire?
- How will this design improve their life and create joy?
- How have other designers conveyed a similar message?
- What can I do to separate my design from theirs?
A truly great design captures the soul of a product. That takes understanding your creation before you ever create the first pen stroke. Ask questions, conduct research and learn everything you can about what you’re creating.
You can apply this same process to all sorts of creative projects. Knowledge is power.
4. Embrace the Intense Struggle
“My biggest revelation in terms of overcoming creative block was realizing that my best pieces were the outcomes of my biggest struggles. The ones with which I had spent hours staring at a wall or crying about how nothing in this piece made sense… Now, when I hit a creative dead end, I overcome it by seeing it as an opportunity to rethink, re-evaluate, and make something great.”
– Lotta Nieminen, excerpt from Breakthrough!
Have you ever noticed how great things happen in the depths of struggle and despair? It’s always baffled me how those moments have changed me and transformed me more than anything else. It’s where I’ve found my story, voice and reason to create.
Learn how to embrace the struggle. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
5. Do Something Completely Different
Over the years, I’ve developed a system for my creativity. There’s a certain process that I take with each new project. When I sit down to begin developing it, I know exactly what steps that I’ll take first.
It’s calming and refreshing. But, from time to time, it can hinder my flow. Canadian-based painter, Fiona Ackerman, understands this struggle. She shares:
“You’ve probably developed a certain style that is unmistakably yours. Your creative muscle has become strong, maybe overbearing. It’s time to stretch.”
Stretching happens when you go outside your established routines and processes. Dive into that unfamiliar territory and try something unfamiliar. It could be as simple as working backwards (e.g. drafting the introduction first instead of last) or trying to create at a different time of the day than usual. Just do something different and see what happens.
Now you know how to break through a creative block. No more excuses. It’s time to embrace your inner artist and overcome this challenge.
Comment below with how you plan to conquer your block and create something amazing.