Any creative person has a time when the ideas dry up. It’s called a creative block and it’s a perfectly normal part of the art and craft world.
Creative blocks form a barrier to inspiration and affect work, performance and mental well-being. There’s no knowing when a creative block will strike, and creative blocks can last days, a week, a month or even years! But the good news is, there’s several ways to get your creative juices flowing again.
Getting through the first hurdle
It’s important to remember that creative blocks are temporary. A hobbyist can simply ride a creative block out, returning to art and craft once they’re in a better headspace. But a person who relies on creativity for income will need to take action. You can do this by addressing your creative block as soon as it hits and by being realistic about what a creative block means.
A creative block does not mean the end of your creative career. Nor does it mean the end of your creative outlet.
Instead of getting angry and frustrated at your lack of creativity, try to figure out what might be causing it. Five common causes of creative blocks are:
Fear is a common feeling for many artists and creatives. There’s fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of trying something new … the list goes on. Fear is creative paralysis. And the only way to address it is to face it head on. Tell yourself it’s okay to feel fear - write yourself a permission slip if you need to. Accepting fear is the best way to tackle it.
Many creative people are perfectionists. But continually criticising your work takes its toll over time and constantly waiting for the perfect inspiration will mean it may never come. Instead, be positive and let this drive for greatness fuel your passion - high standards and an eye for detail are great tools.
If you continually put off projects, the quality of your creativity suffers. Creativity is about being in the moment but deadlines can be restricting. So create a workable schedule with plenty of breaks as soon as you start a project. That way you won’t be relying on your creativity to kick in at the last minute.
Being too busy
Scheduling too many projects can leave you feeling frazzled and unfocused. This eventually leads to burn out, which presents itself in the form of a creative block. You need to schedule yourself time for processing and inspiration.
A poor diet, lack of exercise and other bad health habits affect your sleep and therefore your performance and creativity. Sometimes this can lead to a lowered immune system, opening you up to all kinds of sickness. Sickness and creativity are not good friends. So eat well, exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep and visit your GP for a checkup.
Breaking through the creative block
Having found the root of your problem you can get to work breaking through your creative block once and for all. All artists have a different way of doing this. You may find that it takes a combination of different techniques:
1. Follow the unlikely
Instead of sitting down to work in your preferred space, go somewhere different. The best ideas don’t have to be sought after, you just have to open yourself up to them. Inspiration is everywhere.
2. Sleep on it
Before you go to bed make a note about where you are at with your project. Include as much detail as you can and jot down where you want to be the next time you pick up your brush or sketchbook. Once you’ve done that, step away from your project and go to sleep. Sleeping allows you to naturally filter your thoughts to get rid of the waste that might be clouding your clarity, giving you a clear state of mind once you wake.
Also, strange things happen when you are in a semi-sleep state. Put your subconscious state to good use and get creative as soon as you wake.
3. Try another creative discipline
Your creative block might not be all encompassing. Try tapping into another creative discipline. If you’re a painter, try picking up a camera and trying some photography. Consider charcoal drawing, marbling or calligraphy.
4. Surround yourself with creative people
Consulting with other creative minds, be it on art projects, stories or everyday life, can be hugely powerful when you’re stuck in a rut. Just being around them can help.
If you’re not sure where to find other creatives, sign up for an art class or enrol in a cooking class. Join a meetup, check your community notice board or run a Google search for your nearest creative hub. There are creatives everywhere when you know where to look.
5. Distance yourself
If you are finding yourself frustrated with the piece you are currently working on, distance yourself from it. Just as absence makes the heart grow fonder, distance can reawaken creativity.
6. Finish what you’ve started
If you hate the idea of distancing yourself, finish what you started instead. Even if you’re not overly thrilled with the end result, completion of the project could free up creativity for the next piece.
7. Carry a sketchbook
When your creativity has been slow, you want to be sure that you’re ready for it when it starts flowing. Have a sketchbook to hand at all times. Don’t be afraid to use it for jotting down ideas and sources of inspiration.
8. Paint by Numbers
When you’re not coming up with ideas on your own, Paint by Numbers can be a great way to keep you in the game. If you’re pleased with the end result, it might be enough to ignite your creativity.
9. Buy something new
Be it a pop of colour in your studio, a new art piece on the wall, new paints and brushes for your art kit or a new drawing board to support your designs, give yourself something new to enjoy. Ideally choose something with a bit of ‘life’ or something that excites you.
10. Immerse yourself in culture
Discover something new and immerse yourself in a different culture. You can do this by listening to different music, cooking an exotic meal, visiting a gallery or museum or attending a festival or sporting event.
Exercising is a great way to reboot your creative mind. It floods your body with happy hormones and gets the blood rushing around the muscles and mind. Exercise outdoors with a jog or hike and let nature nurture you back to creativity.
12. Embrace the time out
Working yourself to the bone can stifle your creativity. You need to make time for yourself to unwind. Take your creative block as a sign to slow down. Rest, relax, rejuvenate. Embrace the time out and don’t fight it. Pushing too hard against your body’s signals will only make it fight harder.
13. Get support
In a time of need, support is everything.
At Discount Art N Craft we’ve got your back. Find the best tools at discount prices and overcome your creative block with our comprehensive range of online art and craft supplies. Get support, read our blog for inspiration and ensure a creative block never strikes again!