Whether you believe you are creative or not, creative blocks happen. To everyone. From great writers to great painters and musicians, they all confess to having creative blocks from time to time. What to do when this happens is a subject many creative people talk about and share. Here are 5 different ways to unblock creative blocks whether you sit by the computer, stare at a blank page or the canvas. These are methods I read about and tried and I’m sharing them with you in hope that one of them (or all) will help you produce the most brilliant work of your life.
Creative blocks sometimes happen because you are distracted by other things, physical or emotional. Two prominent Los Angeles psychologist, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, who pride themselves for having patients with 40 Oscar awards between them, wrote a book called “The Tools” that is supposed to help with creative blocks, and teach you how to turn your problems into courage, but there is nothing new under the sun; their tools have been in use by many creative people for many years.
1. Force yourself
As much as you don’t want to hear it, forcing yourself is one of the ways to get over creative block. Force yourself by having a ritual that leads to work, force yourself to sit by your desk even if nothing is coming into your head, or force yourself by doodling or writing something on the screen. Sometime the creative juices start flowing when you doodle aimlessly.
2. Block out negative thoughts
Most of the time we are distracted by negative thoughts. This will never be good enough/I’m a terrible writer/designer/I’ll be fired as soon as I show my work/they don’t like me here… Recognize those thoughts? I bet you do. No creative person that brings something new into the world is devoid of those thoughts. Learn how to block them. If you can commend your brain not to think about them, your creativity may begin to flow.
3. Go for a walk or a run
Physical activity is one of the things that might wake the brain up. Murakami, the famous Japanese writer is a runner. He claims that running almost every day clears his mind because he doesn’t think about anything while he runs. He listens to his breathing, to his footsteps, to the wind in the trees but hardly ever thinks about what he is about to write.
4. Take a nap
I have heard that trick from many writers. When they are stuck and nothing comes up they take a short nap. Sometimes ‘sleeping on it’ works and things become clearer. Even if they don’t become clear, at least you are refreshed now and can sit for another 2 hours by your desk.
In other words, again, empty your mind and don’t bother with your feelings. Concentrate on something outside of you – a word, a rhyme, a color inside your eyelids. Sometimes you might fall asleep and that brings us to the benefits of a nap. Sometimes you will wake up feeling rejuvenated.
Even though we wish we could bring creativity on demand, and sometimes we are required to do so, it will not always happen. Avoid distractions, and God knows there are so many of them now – cell phone, surfing the web, e mails, shopping online… Creativity is a great thing, but it will get you nowhere without discipline.
Ferina Santos is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of graphic design courses. A feisty nerd at heart with an obsession for vanity, she captures all her random musings with daily photographs in her blog, A Pink Banana.