- On October 15, 2015
5 Ways to Break Your Creative Block
Studio Habits to Keep You Working
We’ve all been there: the dreaded creative block.
Ideas, which once flowed in an unstoppable river, have dried up and the creative process has transformed into a nightmare of self-doubt and uncertainty.
Interestingly, what many artists call creative block is simply the experience of being temporarily without your creative gifts. You are simply experiencing the world as if you had no artistic intuition. The leaps of understanding and instant visual communication that normally support your process have abandoned you for the moment.
This can be caused by any number of factors such as fatigue, stress, hunger (seriously), or even ennui (*sigh* and look sad). Creative block can happen to us all, and while there is no formula for inspiration, there are habits you can build which will serve you well when inspiration is elusive.
Here are some excellent tricks for breaking the studio blues:
1: Take a Break
Simple, right? Yes, except we all know that one of the hardest things to do is to walk away from an unresolved problem in our art. However, little is accomplished by beating your head against a wall and some mental distance will often shatter a blockage.
Go home for the night and check back in the morning. When you return with fresh eyes, the solution often seems self-apparent. All you needed was a little space. And some dinner. Maybe a cookie.
2. Embrace Fear
Try the thing that scares you the most. True, you might fail. That’s okay – failure is education. Or, you might succeed. The fearless resolve to throw your full energy at a problem is the basis for genius, and the sincere belief that your creativity is not a limited resource will guide you through many long nights.
Strangely, the better a work of art is progressing, the harder it can be to remain loose and adaptive- if a thing begins to feel nearly finished, it is terrifying to risk all of that progress… so embrace fear and create boldly!
It can be difficult to remember what originally drew us to art; children create with an unselfconscious wonder that is not limited by physical or conceptual barriers. In the middle of a tight creation deadline it can be terribly challenging to find the lighter elements of play and fun within the process.
If you can remember the world as you saw it as a child, you will maintain a mental flexibility that is a real asset when the ideas dry up.
4. Start Over
Sometimes, a piece stalls out because you are trying too hard to fit a square peg into a round hole. Set the peg down for a moment and ask yourself some hard questions: Is this the right answer to this problem? Is there a better approach to this statement? Am I being constrained by my premise?
When you know how to create, you should never fear destruction, so set the old work aside and try again. Sometimes, the only answer is a new question.
5. Look Inside
Picture me speaking in a dreamy voice and follow along with this simple meditation:
- Move away from your art and find a comfortable position with your eyes closed and breath slowly in and out.
- Empty your mind. Picture yourself sitting in a dark theater where your thoughts play on the screen. Try to blank out this screen. Whenever a thought does flash across the screen, acknowledge that it occurred and clear it away again.
- After a time, think back to when you were inspired and project this moment onto the screen. Recall the feeling of ideas exploding in your mind and notice as your hands tingle with the urgency of creation.
- How does this feel? Hold that sensation in your mind. Brush away every excuse or “but” that flickers across the screen of your mind and focus on the sensation and power that wells into your hands.
- As you open your eyes, remember that you are sitting on a planet that is spinning at 1,000 mph while circling our sun at 66,000 mph, which is moving towards Vega at roughly 43,000 mph and orbiting the Galactic Core at a mind numbing 483,000 mph, which is moving through the Universe at the ridiculous speed of 1.3 million mph!
When you create, you are tapping into that Universe.
Now go make art!
Join us to grow.