The creative field isn’t one that operates from 9-5. Often enough, artists actually find themselves working within those hours in a career that pays the bills and puts food on the table and have to scratch their creative itch whenever time permits. So what happens when you finally get a free moment to sit down and work on a project, only to find yourself stuck?
Creative block is the thing that haunts artist’s dreams at night. The worst part about it is that the nightmare has a tendency to become a reality. It is the condition that we define as the loss of ability to produce new, worthwhile work, or the ability to keep a steady momentum. The muse packs up, walks out, and doesn’t give any indication on when she’ll return. With her departure brings the arrival of doubt. You aren’t good enough. You’ll never finish anything. So why even bother? You might as well just throw in the towel and give up. It’s a dreaded moment.
So how does one get past this unfortunate, yet inevitable moment? Here are some helpful hacks to beat a block and keep those creative juices flowing.
Don’t Be Stationary
Getting lost in your work for hours at a time without coming up for air may seem like an ideal situation. If that happens to you, then great! More power to you! But sometimes when you’re feeling like you’re heading toward a block, it helps if you get up and move around. Your brain can become dormant when you’re constantly surrounded by the familiar. A change of scenery can be a tremendous help. Change your setting. Head out to a park or a café with your materials in hand and see if that ignites any sparks.
Don’t Cower in Fear
That thing you’re scared of? Do it. Scared of killing off a character? Do it. Worried about using that shade of blue among that vibrant yellow you aren’t sure you’re fond of? Do it. Want to use neon instead of pastels? Polaroid instead of digital? Do it. Do it all. Be adventurous in your field. Test the waters. The worst that can happen is that you hate it and you start over again.
Switch It Up
Do something completely unrelated to your discipline. If you’re a writer, pick up a camera. If you prefer a paint brush, give an instrument a whirl. Build something, if you want. Putting yourself in a new situation can help you appreciate your abilities and jumpstart your mind. The key is keeping the creative part of your brain active, in whatever way possible.
Set Guidelines for Yourself
This may seem like a contradiction. But sometimes having too many options is daunting. Working under pressure with time restraints can force you to make a decision. Having boundaries to bounce against keep you on track instead of getting distracted and wandering off.
Make a No-Go List
If you’re stuck with where to go with a project, start first with a list of places you know aren’t in the realm of possibilities. Even if this doesn’t help with figuring out your next or final destination, at least it narrows down the options.
Ideas come and go. That’s a part of life that anyone who considers themselves even remotely creative has to deal with. Sometimes, it seems like the best options are giving up or waiting it out.
Don’t limit yourself by waiting for inspiration to come to you. Instead, take matters into your own hands and go look for it yourself. Don’t just find it – take it. Take it, run with it, and hold onto it for as long as you can. When another block happens (and it will), then repeat the process. Your work is too valuable to be forgotten about.