How to Beat Creative Block
Article posted by Afterglow on August 20, 2013
Ever wondered what to do next? Got stuck for inspiration and found yourself staring blankly at a half-finished canvas or an empty page? Or realise that you’re so caught up in the everyday, that the really exciting projects get pushed to the back of your mind?
Creative people are, generally speaking, fantastic self-starters, highly motivated to do what they love and once in our stride, there really is no stopping us. But occasionally what goes on in our own head also has a habit of letting us down. So here are a few tips – some daily do-gooders and some for when the elastic on your productive pants has near given up and they risk falling around your ankles – to give yourself the extra boost needed to fill in the blanks and truly get excited again about what can be achieved by the talent that you have.
#1. Eat the ugly frog first.
Whatever your creativity, and however much you love doing what you do, we all have those jobs that we’d rather somebody else to manage, or better still, didn’t exist. But they do. And putting them off, as we often do, simply gives them permission to niggle and poke us throughout the day. Take control and make this the first thing that you do. And complete it. You’ll find your head much nicer to deal with for the rest of the day.
(There’s a whole book on eating ugly frogs and how it can help with your productivity written by Brian Tracy; Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways To Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done In Less Time.)
#2. Fuck the diet.
I’m not suggesting that you eat ALL the cake, and this is by no means meant as medical advice, but balls to people who recommend drinking apple juice instead of coffee. It’s your shout, if you enjoy coffee and it keeps you focused during the time that you want to be focused, drink it. Personally, I like to consume a ridiculous amount of coffee when I write, and red wine whilst painting. If it works for you, and of course if it doesn’t mess with a particular health issue that you have, enjoy it.
#3. Listen to yourself. No don’t. Yes do!
Often, especially when we come up with something utterly unique, our inner critic decides to take a bash at us. And it’s very good at knocking our self-esteem to the point where our idea doesn’t come to fruit because we start to worry that what we’ve come up with just won’t be good enough.
The most famous artists, the most controversial writers, ingenious advertisements and the best inventions that have moved society forward have come from taking risks. So silence your inner critic and go for it. Give yourself permission to see where your idea takes you. Sometimes it will work, and sometimes it won’t, and whatever the result, you’ll have learned from the practice and it’ll likely lead you down another inspiring road.
#4. Get yourself comfortable. And then mess it up a bit.
Where you work has a profound effect on what and how you create. We’ve all heard that hospitals are pale green to induce the feeling of calm for example. Having the ‘right’ light can also make you more alert. Well now there’s a whole bunch of scientific studies to suggest that a messy workspace inspires alternative ways of thinking and boosts creativity.
It’s going to be different for all of us of course. And whilst it’s important to feel comfortable at your main workstation, however many bombs have hit it, It’s also important to move away from your comfort zone from time to time. Take your laptop to a café that you’ve not yet visited, take your sketch pad to the park, climb a tree, slip under a bridge, park yourself at a public gallery, tennis court, arcade, tourist attraction. The world is full of good shit and it may not be directly relevant for your chosen craft or genre, and all the better for fresh inspiration.
#5. And on that note…
Talk to people.
We’ve all got stories. Horribly sad times, embarrassingly stupid tales that make us cringe, adventures that we love to tell at any given opportunity, destructive thoughts and moments that helped us to turn it all around. And best of all is that we all love to talk about ourselves, so just ask, listen and ask some more. Your next masterpiece has probably already happened.
And of course, chatting to fellow creative people never fails to make you want to do more. Whether it’s bouncing idea’s for something new, having the opportunity to talk about what you’re doing out loud, or listening to their current or future projects, even if you’re both in the same ‘stuck’ situation, if you want a real surge of excitement that leaves you unable to wait to put it into practice, talk to a creative.
#6. Do something.
Do something silly: It doesn’t have to be big. Just stand up and dance on the train or roly poly down a hill. Let go of your inhibition for five minutes a day and giggle like an idiot.
Do something scary: Get the adrenaline pumping and try something new.
Do something, anything!: You may have heard of ‘The Secret’. ‘Thoughts make things.’ Well quite. But the thing, the really important thing that this theory leaves out is that once you have a thought (or even if you don’t) you have to take action. And it really doesn’t matter what that action is. Even if it’s just going for a walk, you have to do something for some thing to happen.
… You’re still here. Go on, get. Do something. I’m off to wrestle a badger.