By Rania Tsoli,
So, you have picked up your pen and an empty page is staring back at you; maybe you have mixed all your colors and sitting across from a blank, untouched canvas; perhaps you have just tuned your guitar’s strings and are ready to play the first melody that comes to mind, but for some reason, you do not feel ready to strum – it seems like, for once, inspiration is not all too eager to strike. This phenomenon is anything but uncommon; otherwise known as “creative block”, one will most likely experience it numerous times in their life. But why does this lack of inspiration occur? And if you happen to find yourself creatively blocked, how can you actually overcome this lack of inventiveness and imagination? Let us firstly get more familiar with the term, in order to afterward be able to dive into the causes behind the infamous creative block, and explore the possible solutions to it.
The term “creative block”, also known as “art block”, “blank canvas syndrome”, and sometimes more vaguely mentioned as “barrier to inspiration”, can be used to describe the inability to access one’s internal creativity, and it can occur when you least expect it. Those in creative professions or involved in artistic hobbies – writers, musicians, performers, painters, or artists in general – are often more likely to be affected by a creative block, the duration of which can vary from a few days or a couple of weeks to many months – and sometimes even years. When a creative block makes its appearance and comes to the surface, it can affect not only one’s work and performance, but their well-being and mental health, as well.
Once we take a closer look, we will be able to trace specific reasons as to why a creative block happens in the first place. The first cause that we are going to explore is one of mental nature: to put it simply, if you have found yourself creatively stuck, there is a chance that you are just thinking too much. In this type of creative block, your brain just keeps getting in the way of your inner imagination and creativity, and you end up overthinking anything and everything. You may find yourself stuck in your comfort zone of not daring to try anything new, and that is most likely happening because your inner critic is currently in hyperdrive, finding faults and imperfections in every idea you come up with, finally stopping you from experimenting with any of them.
As a matter of fact, one of the most common reasons behind the creative block is one’s fear of imperfection; subconsciously thinking that you are not good enough at what you do to see an idea through occurs more often than one would think. The fact that many creatives and artists describe themselves as perfectionists is no coincidence; and having a personality trait of this sort can frequently prevent the pursuit of a new idea or completion of a creative project, out of a natural need to strive for the best outcome possible and the urge to reject anything that is not up to standard.
Another one of the main causes of creative block has to do with one’s emotional state. This time, your emotions are getting in the way of your creativity; in this type of creative block, instead of overthinking, you will find yourself feeling too much. There may be a big personal issue going on in your life: it could be anything, from health issues or a close one’s death to relationship problems or a cross-country move. Major changes like this can overwhelm you emotionally and may end up disrupting your schedule, therefore decreasing your ability to focus on your creations. Most of the time, if not always, creativity demands focus — and it is hard to concentrate if you are battling an addiction, falling out with your best friend, changing jobs, getting out of a relationship, or moving to a new place. You might be lucky and only have to deal with circumstances of the sort one at a time – but troubles can also come in pairs, naturally making the situation all the more difficult.
Your daily routine can also affect your doses of inspiration greatly, playing the main role in your ability to create. You may find that your art-making schedule is not working anymore and that you have little to no energy to create left. Maybe you do not have as much time to create as you would normally need while getting sidetracked with other tasks and never getting around to making anything is also frequent. In this type of creative block, you have so much on your plate that it is now stopping your creativity from flowing freely. Sometimes a block comes from doing too much; not too little. You have taken on too many commitments and projects, said yes to people, suggestions, or plans one time too many, have too many ideas to be able to focus on implementing just one; and now you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming demands and information. You feel paralyzed by your options and obligations, what you have to do, and all the things you want to try or are simply knackered from working too hard for too long.
Thankfully, there are many solutions to try that can help you slowly make your way out of a dreadful creative block – and some might seem small but can prove to be just what you need to overcome your lack of inspiration. One of the main things you need to do in order to get out of your creative block is to try to get out of your head: whether you choose to read a book, watch a movie, or go somewhere new, you can expect your head and thoughts to start clearing a little after experiencing something different. Getting in touch with your emotional side is also of great importance: by reminding yourself why you make art and remembering what you enjoy creating the most, while also gently pushing yourself to overcome any doubts, fears, or traces of self-consciousness, you can trust that you will slowly start to find some clarity.
If you find yourself going through a rough patch in your life, you need to realize that taking a short break from creating, in order to cope with any issues, is not only okay but necessary for your well-being, too. Creating a personalized schedule, building habits regarding your art-making, and making a priority list of the things you have or want to do can prove to be very helpful. Finally, it is important to remind yourself to rest and relax; pushing yourself too much can not only worsen your creative block, but even lead to burnout of mental, emotional, and physical nature.
Creative block is something most people go through at some point, and it is admittedly an aggravating situation to go through. You cannot always prevent it from happening, but there are thankfully many things you can do to slowly overcome it and get back to feeling inspired and creating. While trying to get through it, recognize the fact that no matter how annoying, being creatively blocked is perfectly normal – give yourself some time and space! By realizing what has caused your creative block and looking around you for new sources of creativity while remembering to take care of yourself, you will certainly start to make some progress. Allow yourself to fail, and if you find yourself disliking what you created because it does not feel as forged out of inspiration as your other creations, that’s okay; creativity cannot be forced, but, sooner or later, it always comes back.
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- 20 ways to overcome creative block, creativebloq.com, Available here