How to Overcome Creative Block

Have you ever felt like you’ve just forgotten everything you know about your creative medium, can’t think of new idea no matter how hard you try and that there is no way you’ll ever be as good as you hope to be?

I would like to take a moment here to talk about creative block, as it something all creative professionals struggle with from time to time, and sometimes for a longer time than we would like to admit. It can become self-deprecating and cause an artist to have self-doubt, feel depressed, feel useless and without a purpose, unsure of what they are meant to be doing, a kind of lost feeling, stuck in a vicious cycle inside their head, constant voices saying “you are not skilled enough, you are not original enough, there is so much competition and you won’t succeed.”

As I have been struggling with Creative Block myself recently, I knew it was important to get away from the city, to reconnect with life itself and nature. I spent four days down by the foreshore of Victoria in Sorrento, where I often like to drive down to during holiday times. It helped me rejuvenate and as soon as I came back to my studio in Melbourne, I felt like painting and I wanted to take action on my new found inspirational mood.

The short break made me think about the ways I try to overcome creative block and I thought I would share my advice with you here in case you too are in a tricky creative spot with creative block!

Keep reading below for my 10 Ways to Overcome Creative Block…

How to overcome creative block

Creativity, Where are you? // Photo @deardiarydesign

10 Ways to Overcome Creative Block

1. Take a Mini Getaway

It’s important to get away from your ‘everyday environment’ when you have creative block, as this stimulates new thoughts and your senses when experiencing something new or out of the ordinary. It doesn’t need to be far, or for long, just enough time and enough space to be able to clear your thoughts and disconnect from the norm. If the creative block is severe and has been going on for a number of months, I suggest taking a longer break and traveling much further, potentially overseas or to a different state!

Suggestion:Take a road trip at least 2hours away and stay overnight somewhere.

2. Go for a Hike or Long Walk

Taking a walk or going hiking is my go-to method to clear my thoughts if I’m having a particularly ‘blocky’ day and need a temporary refresh of the mind or just time to clarify my thoughts. Usually after at least a 5km walk, I can go back to the studio with clear points I want to action.

Suggestion:While walking, try to focus on a single thought or project and flesh out everything you need to around the idea. I like to put together my ‘priority’ list of things to do or creative tasks in my head, so that when I return from my walk, I am clear on what action to start taking.

The Path to Creativity again! // Photo @deardiarydesign

3. Read a Magazine or Flip Through Design Books

This is also a method to finding inspiration for a project of any kind, however I also use this technique in passing creative block. There is a difference though. While i’m doing a project I will have the magazines and books around me at the computer, almost multi-tasking. To passing creative block I take the magazines and books with me to a quiet place, usually outside of my studio, maybe to a park or the state library and focus only on reading and absorbing the content.

Suggestion:Pick up a copy of Collective Hub magazine, it’s packed to the brim with inspo!

4. Dance, Move and Groove!

There’s a reason I’m a big fan of dancing for fitness, as it’s just another way I like to shake away the creative block and feel re-energized! Dancing in particular I find takes my mind completely away from the complicated and negative thoughts I’m having about my artistic work. It forces me to focus on learning choreography and moving to a beat, so there is no chance to zone out and think about other things. It is also another form a creativity and I can often spark new ideas in the middle of a boogie!

Suggestion: If Dancing isn’t your jam, try yoga, aerial yoga, zumba or aerobics for an adrenaline pumping hour to re-awaken your inner beat!

Skipping around hedges is dancing, right? // Photo @deardiarydesign

5. Chill Out and Watch TV Shows

Sounds crazy right? But this is one of my favourite creative block busters! Taking time to actually ‘relax’ is important for all creative minds. We all work so hard and want to achieve to much, so we often think sitting in front of the TV will be time wasted. If I’m feeling overwhelmed by a project, too many ideas, thoughts or just getting frustrated by my work that day, I will take an hour or so to sit down on the couch and just step away from my studio to chill out and disconnect. Watching TV allows for my mind to be taken away from what I was doing, calm down and become rational again. Watching a movie or TV show might even inspire a new idea, colour palette or character I need to create. Watching a show that makes you laugh will also put you in a happy frame of mind.

Suggestion:Choose a movie with plenty of colour and interest in the set or costumes, not too heavy or sad. Choose a TV show that makes you laugh and puts you in a happy mood. Better still, go off to the Cinemas for the afternoon!

Just Chill Out // Photo @deardiarydesign

6. Use a Colouring Book

Think the adult colouring-in phase is under utilizing your skills? Think again! Because spending sometime colouring-in mindlessly will help to get your creative inner colours flowing again. Doing something you are easily capable of, will help boost your confidence and also reduce the pressure you are putting on yourself to “always be the best at your practice”. It will allow you to be creative at a beginner level, assisting to kick-start your motivation for your real projects. It is also another way to relax the mind and take the focus away from negative thoughts causing creative block.

Suggestion: Choose a colouring-in book that isn’t too detailed. Make sure you like what you are looking at and that the images inspire you. I’m currently colour crushing on the Matthew Williamson Fashion Colouring-in book.

Nature’s Colours // Photo @deardiarydesign

7. Visit a Local Market

Another great way to zone out but also look for inspiration is to visit a local market. Markets are often bustling with artists, makers, bakers, colours, smells, sights and sounds that can trigger creative thoughts and ideas. You can visit different kinds of markets for varying experiences. Markets focused on fresh produce can be great for colour, still-life and textural inspiration. Other markets centered around small makers or hand-crafted goods can be inspiring to see from a business sense and see what other creatives are doing with their mediums. The last kind that is my favourite inspirational type, is vintage flea markets. The obscure odds and ends, old publications and retro printed clothes are a great way to trigger inspiration with a traditional twist.

Suggestion:In Melbourne there is a great flea market in Camberwell Rotary every Sunday full of old antiques and interesting finds. South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market are both great for finding fresh colours and sketching the atmosphere.

8. Bounce off Someone Else’s Creative Energy

If you are really stuck with creative block and going out to find inspiration isn’t working, perhaps call up a creative mentor or friend to have a chat. Talk to them about why you are struggling to find creative motivation and perhaps ask if they can suggest any of the methods they use to overcome creative block. It might also be a good idea to meet them in person, so that the creative energy can flow between you both, and you’ll have the chance to bounce creative ideas off of each other for the project you are struggling with and also collect some positive energy!

Suggestion:Keeping creative connections and networks fresh is extremely important for creative well-being. Try organizing a catch-up with your creative friends or those that you have great energy with, once a month. This way you will benefit from each other’s social company regularly – just be careful it doesn’t turn into a negative venting sesh!

Spend Some Time Meditating // Photo @deardiarydesign

9. Spend Some Time Meditating

Personally, I don’t do this one enough! Spending at least one minute a day meditating is said to boost energy and clear the mind, keeping a healthy mental balance. Find a quiet place to sit or lie still (even if it’s in the bedroom with the door closed or outside the house in the garden or park) and focus on your breathing in and out. Close your eyes and make sure you are comfortable with nothing to interrupt you. Meditate for as long as you feel you need to.

Suggestion: If you are time poor or find it hard to get time alone, try mediating for a minimum of one minute per day and slowly build up to longer. Or after a session at the gym, add on a 15-minute mediation before heading home. You can also mediate for 5-minutes after work in the car, before walking into the chaos at home.

10. Take a Class or Learn Something New

Taking a class on a creative practice can boost your creativity in many more way than one! It allows you to refresh your skill set which increases confidence in your skills, it can allow you to learn a new skill and you will be surrounded by many other interesting people to talk to and be inspired by. Some classes to try might include life drawing, painting, paper craft, scrap booking, fashion illustration or macrame!

Suggestion:You can also try following tutorials on youtube for refreshing skills and warming up creativity with beginner painting or drawing exercises. I like to warm-up before painting sometimes by searching for ‘basic goauche tutorials’, then following along until I feel ready to begin my real project.

I hope this helped you in some way if you are in a creative block, otherwise remember to try these techniques in the future if you happen to need some inspiration!

Wishing you all the creative vibes!

If you have any other suggestions on overcoming creative block, please share in the comments 🙂

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