No matter how experienced, we all hit the creative wall at one point or another in our career. If gone unchecked this creative block could go on for months at a time threatening projects or even careers (let’s hope it doesn’t get or hasn’t gotten this far!). The easy answer is to break down the wall that’s in your way, but the hard part is finding a way to do that. Everybody is different and so are the reasons behind your creative block which is where the difficulty comes in; however, by following some of the steps in this article, you’ll be able to find out what’s causing your creative block and how to successfully break though it.
Realize what is causing your creative block
In order to successfully tackle your creative block you must first realize what is causing it. You can’t overcome a problem if you don’t know what’s causing it. You may be able to work through it or sidestep it (more on this later), but In the long run, If you don’t figure out the cause you will basically be putting a band aid on an open wound. It will continue to bleed, you will get distracted again and you’ll be back at square one or in an even worse situation. Unfortunately, this is where I can help you the least. What I can do is give you ideas on what the most common causes of creative block are. As a preemptive note I’ll mention that everything below causes stress which is why I don’t just list stress on this list. I’m trying to get down to the real issue.
Lack of Sleep: If you are tired your mind wanders more. This is scientifically proven and anyone who has sleep issues can relate here. Do yourself a favor and get some sleep. There’s no magical number for how much sleep you need, though there are plenty of studies that have been done on the proper amount which I’m not going to go into it here; I’ll just say get a good nights rest.
Over-tasking: If you are overwhelmed by too many projects your mind wanders (do you see a pattern here?). If you can’t concentrate on one thing, it’s will take you forever to get one thing done. Even if you are a great multi-tasker, the fact of the matter is if you concentrate on one thing you will get it done faster.
Personal issues: Maybe there’s something else that’s bothering you: financial worries, relationship issues, you’re hungry, whatever. These are the things that will cloud your mind and cause it to wander which can lead into creative block.
You can’t overcome a problem if you don’t know what’s causing it.
If you haven’t noticed the common theme throughout the last few notes I’ll paraphrase for you here: If your mind is not fully focused on your project, you won’t get it done. To get through this you need to locate the cause of the creative block and get rid of it or at the very least come to terms with it so that it isn’t on your mind preventing you from working.
If your mind is not fully focused on your project, you won’t get it done.
This is all well and good, but what if you can’t find the cause of the block? Well, then you’ll just have to do your best to jump start your creative juices. There are many methods of doing this both forcibly and non-forcibly. Below I’m going to give examples of how to do this in each category. It’s up to you to figure out which works the best for you.
Force Yourself To Work
Just Do It: Nike said it best. Sometimes you need to just sit down and start working on something. Work on anything. Maybe the doodles or playing around with a plug-in will spark your creativity and something will come of it. You’ll never know until you try.
Make a design/sketch: Maybe you need to take a few steps back. Start by grabbing a pen and notepad or a Wacom tablet and open Photoshop and just start sketching ideas or writing down words. One of these ideas is bound to grab you and then you can dive into it more.
Set deadlines: Maybe you’re giving yourself too much time to work. With too much time you start to become looser and completing a project becomes less of a priority which begins to become a problem. Give yourself a deadline on a project or at the very least only give yourself a specified amount of time to work on the project during the day. You’ll be surprised how much pressure will spark your creativity.
Get Your Mind Off It
Do something different: Perhaps the problem is you’re too comfortable. We all fall into patterns during the day and this does not lead to creativity. Get out of the house and go for a walk, go out to dinner, play sports outside, go skydiving(!); get your mind off of your project by doing something completely different.
Inspire yourself visually: Maybe you just need some inspiration. Check out some reels online, watch a movie, listen to music, read some magazines or a book or view some websites. You would be amazed where inspiration can come from and how little it takes to actually become inspired.
Sleep: Sleep again? Yes. Dreams are inspiring. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a crazy idea in my dreams that I needed to get down in real life. Your dreams should be your biggest inspiration. Following your dreams is what got you to where you are now, right? Why stop there.
By properly using one of the techniques I mentioned in this article you will be able to overcome your creative block and continue on your project. These are proven techniques which have worked for me and many others in the past and continue to work to this day; however, as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, everybody is different and some of these options may not work for you. What they will do is give you an idea of the steps you need to take to locate and break through you’re own creative block.