Encountering a creative block is a lot like encountering road construction on a long road trip: it comes out of nowhere, it’s inconvenient, and it slows everything down to a frustratingly slow pace. “I feel like I’ve lost my creativity,” someone might say, as they sit and stare out the window hoping for their muse to return.
However, unlike road construction, there are several things you can do to snap your mind out of it and to get a breakthrough overcome creative block. If you’re looking for how to get rid of creative block, here are some tips to help.
1. Go For a Walk
Never underestimate the power of nature. The clean air, the exercise, the fact that you’re not in your workspace all lend itself to increased energy and creativity. Plus, you’ll clear your mind and feel freer to tackle your work once you return.
The boost is not merely a psychological trick either; a recent study from Stanford showed that walking has the ability to increase creative output by up to 60%, even by simply walking indoors on a treadmill. So get walking!
2. Create Boundaries
Having a limitless playground with which to explore your thoughts can sound alluring until you begin to feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities. By creating limits to where your mind can go to, you’ll better be able to tackle the task at hand rather than chasing rabbit trails to infinity.
One artist named Trey Speegle suggests making small improvements to a baseline graphic, that way you have something to launch off of. For his art, he makes 50 photocopies of a drawing and then changes each one as much as he can. It may sound monotonous, but having a set starting point gives him something to work off of, which helps keep his mind focused.
3. Get to Work
Many creatives are content to simply let the inspiration find them, which creates an atmosphere of unpredictability and inconsistency. Professional creatives show up every day and get to work, regardless of how they “feel.” What they often find is that once they put in the work, the inspiration naturally comes.
If you find yourself at a mental creative block, try switching gears to something either more monotonous or completely different and see if it doesn’t get your creative juices. Something as simple as brain training games or solving wooden puzzles has been helpful for many. Brain improvement exercises, especially those done with others in a group, can unlock your reserve of mental energy that’s been locked away for years.
4. Reverse Course
Sometimes, we can get so caught up in our own way of doing things that we forget to branch out and try something new. If you’re stuck in a creative rut, pushing further with the techniques and styles that you’re used to may be counterproductive.
If you’re a creative, changing course may be something as simple as picking up a different style: watercolors instead of paint, for instance. If you experience a creative block at your desk, maybe a different program may be what you need to make a breakthrough. Regardless, don’t be afraid to go against what you know, since that path is the one that put you there in the first place.
5. Change Your Surroundings
If you’re fortunate enough to work from home, the sights and sounds of your home office may be suffocating after a while. Simple solution? Take the laptop to the park or a coffee shop and set up there; a change of scenery usually helps expose the senses to new stimulation, which can, in turn, help with creativity.
Michael Michalko, in his famous book Tinkertoys, outlined the necessity for changing your surroundings perfectly, when he wrote: “Your mind is like vegetation. It flourishes in one soil and droops in another.” When it comes to creativity of any stripe, your mind needs stimulation.
6. Embrace the Fear
Like changing course against everything you’ve ever known, maybe sometimes what you need is to simply run towards the things that scare you the most. We all have those techniques or projects that we’re afraid to try for a whole list of reasons; in times of creative block, pull that list out and try one.
For business professionals, it can mean starting a project that you didn’t think you were capable of; for creatives, it can be experimenting with a scene that you’ve never tried before. Either way, embrace the fears of your career path and use them to lift you out of your slump.
7. Power Through
One of the most crippling things about any creative block is the inherent belief that what you’re working on just simply isn’t good enough. Ernest Hemingway dealt with a type of this feeling, known as imposter syndrome, or the feeling that your work can never compete with others’. His advice rings true here: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
If crippling self-doubt is the water that’s quenching your creative fire, then put those fears to rest and power through your work until you’ve at least finished an initial copy. It doesn’t have to be perfect (and it most likely won’t be), but at least you’ll have something that you can work off of later. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment can rejuvenate your soul and give you the tools you need to finish your work strong.