7 Easy Ways to Overcome a Creative Block

Creative blocks, which can be defined as either the inability to create new work or to make progress on a current one, are something most artists experience at least once in their careers. Depending on the individual, a creative block can last anywhere from a few hours, to several years in the most extreme cases. Being blocked is a scary thing for an artist, whose livelihood depends on their creative ability. For me, a block feels like hitting a wall, a really monstrous wall. So, what’s next after face-planting into a big dark wall of nothingness? First of all, don’t panic! Take it as a sign to slow down. I’ve always likened my own creative potential to water in a well. Artists are by nature “thirsty” people. We will drain that well dry in a day’s time if we feel so inspired. Dry, empty wells, however, are of no use to anyone. It’s time to refill.

Listed below are seven healthy methods I use to overcome my creative blocks. I hope they help refill your “well” as effectively as they help me refill mine.

      1. Spend time in nature. Go for a walk along a body of water or in a forest. Climb a mountain or a hill. If you are in an urban area, parks, zoos, and botanical gardens are good alternatives. If none of these are an option, visit your local plant nursery, or watch a sunset or sunrise from your window.

      tourist 2. Be a tourist in your own town. It doesn't matter how large or small your city is, I guarantee that pretending to be a tourist will allow you to see it with fresh eyes. Research what your town is known for; there is a reason why it was founded. Make a day out of exploring its relevant sites. In addition, creating art with a local flavor can endear you to the populace.

      3. Rent a movie or read a book that’s outside of your normal genre. If you normally watch romantic comedies, try a futuristic action movie instead! I read a lot of non-fiction. While practical and informative, it can, in large doses, turn your well-honed creativity into a dull butter knife. I mix it up with the classics, poetry, supernatural fiction, and dreamy travel essays.

      4. Take a class or workshop in a totally different art form. If you’re a photographer, try a drawing workshop. This will force you to slow down and engage with your subject in a completely different manner. If you’re a painter, try pottery, an art form where you create a 3-D object with your hands, as opposed to strictly representing one on your canvas.

      5. Browse a dictionary or a thesaurus. An old writer’s trick that can work for artists too. If looking through the whole book seems overwhelming, pick a single letter, for example - F. What images come to mind when you see the words flutter, flash, or fragile?

      cooking6. Try a new recipe or restaurant. Colorful ingredients and beautifully plated dishes are a feast for the eyes. Plus, eating engages all our senses. I like to try new ethnic restaurants; you get to experience a little dose of the culture along with the food. And, if you like that culture’s cuisine, then check out their art!

      7. Do some reflective writing. Use prompts to get you started; the Internet is full of them. A couple of my personal favorites – the most beautiful sunrise/sunset I’ve ever seen was in…; my favorite color is…; my least favorite color is…; makes me feel wild and free…; my favorite childhood memory is…; scares me…; if today was my last day on Earth and I could spend it any place and any way I choose, I would…; has always fascinated me…

I’d love to hear about your own ways of overcoming creative blocks!

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