Learning how to overcome a creative block is incredibly necessary, no matter in which industry you work or the type of creative job you do.
As a creative professional, you probably had experienced moments when you needed to work on an important task, but your mind could not produce a single good idea.
Even if you tried it and put more effort into it, it only made it worse.
If this happened to you, you know what a creative block is. It feels like walking on a misty path without a hint of where you're going.
Creativity is a real treasure. It's the fuel that powers artistic expression, the muse that inspires humans to develop new ideas, and the essence of disruptive businesses.
But as it comes, it goes. Sometimes, the treasure vanishes, the muse turns away, and we stare at a blank page on our computer screen.
Whether you are a creative director, artist, writer, or graphic designer, the world keeps moving, and you can't afford to stay behind. Finding ways to overcome a creative block is essential when pursuing creative excellence.
Here we try to help you manage your creative blockage, feel inspired again, and produce outstanding ideas.
What are the causes of a creative block?
There are hundreds of reasons why we get stuck in non-productive cycles. Here, we will only touch upon the most common ones that have affected many of us.
Stress - burnout.
Creativity and stress will never be a good pair.
Stress makes our brains lose neuroplasticity, making them rigid and preventing them from producing a balanced response to the environment's demands.
Stress can be significantly damaging, and without the right mindset, it could lead to burnout.
Of course, some exceptions exist; people who use stress and pressure to challenge themselves and conquer their goals. Yet, generally speaking, high stress and tension in the workplace produce worry and mental agitation, which inhibits creative inspiration.
In a 2022 study, the Frontier in Psychology journal says:
"Other studies that explain the negative impacts of stress on creativity through a different approach have indicated that employees experience reduced creativity when they feel that the demands of their work environment are above their expectations or that stress is threatening (Espedido and Searle, 2018) and when they experience emotional fatigue and psychological exhaustion."
Therefore, finding ways to relax under stress and do practices that help you deal with pressure-related scenarios are increasingly crucial for a creative professional and, in general, any worker in any industry.
Fear of being unable to keep up with the work's demands affects many people worldwide.
Self-doubt and self-pressure are two of the deadliest enemies of our creative inspiration. Comparing yourself with others. It's the third one.
Creativity is flow, and it is challenging to tap into our true creative potential while being afraid.
If you worry a lot about how people will perceive your ideas and the impressions they will make, it's time to reconnect with the joy of creating beyond results and expectations.
Habits such as technological distraction, self-absorption, lack of sleep, and a poor diet, can significantly diminish the creative quality of your work.
Benjamin Franklin said, "old habits die hard," but they still do.
It is challenging to recondition our brains to adapt to new forms of behavior when we are used to and feel comfortable with the old ways.
What drives a creative shift is an honest examination of ourselves, looking into how we do our creative work and eliminating old habits that no longer contribute to our development.
Lack of concentration.
Mozart said: "The shorter way to do many things is only to do one thing at a time."
Often, lack of concentration and multitasking are why we don't reach the heart of our creative work.
We live in a time in history when our senses are constantly stimulated by the pollution of our external environment and excessive amounts of information through social media.
Social platforms can significantly benefit you when seeking inspiration from other artists' work. Yet, they can become a powerful source of distraction and stop you from landing and shaping ideas into reality. Unless you are a community manager.
Self-control and a solid capacity to focus are great qualities to cultivate to achieve creative stability and reliability.
How to overcome a creative block
A mental block can happen anytime; knowing a few strategies that help you counteract it is essential.
Here are simple ways to feel the creative juices flowing again:
Accept that you're stuck.
It sounds rather obvious, but it's true.
When you know you are blocked creatively, fighting or lying to yourself won't help and could worsen things. By accepting you're stuck, you take full responsibility for overcoming creative block, and this will bring a fresh perspective, and such freshness comes with new ideas.
Take a walk ( if in nature, better)
Taking walks is an excellent idea if you are facing a creative block.
Walking is a form of meditation in the Buddhist tradition, which says a lot about the power of such activity when done consciously.
Breathing fresh air and observing life passing around will give you a new perspective to think things through groundedly and come up with fresher creative solutions.
Give it a break.
When you are stuck, changing activity also works well. Take a break from trying hard to create something good and enjoy life. Never force creativity.
Thinking about other things help us to get out of the problem and stop looking at life so seriously.
Good advice: Do something different or anything you enjoy doing. If it's a repetitive task, even better.
Allow yourself to take a conscious break this way, and you will return to your creative challenge with fresher energy and a new vision.
In the Indian tradition, it is said that breathing and mind activity are interconnected.
They believe that our mind relaxes when we breathe slowly and deeply. On the contrary, breathing rhythms are faster and shorter if we are stressed.
Meditation, breathwork, and pranayama techniques are great tools for calming your mind while helping overcome creative stagnation. Also, they significantly contribute to decision-making processes and improve cognitive behaviour in the long run.
RELATED READ: HOW MEDITATION CAN BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE >
Create personal self-constraints.
By now, you know better than anybody what distracts you and inhibits your creative flow. Setting explicit constraints that benefit your creative spark is a wise choice when wanting to overcome blockages on a general basis.
For example, avoiding social media works well if you want to develop a stronger concentration capacity.
Constraints help you be more effective with your time and provide structure and direction to your creative mind.
Tools to stay productive, focused, and creative
Perhaps many of us already know what a mind map is. For those who don't, mind mapping is a visual and straightforward way to draw and track your creative processes and tasks. It helps you escape limited perspectives by offering a general view of the idea/task ahead.
In her book The Telling Image: Shapes of Changing Times, Lois Farfel Stark stated:
"Living in new shapes reshapes our thinking."
And indeed, translating our creative process into a visual form helps us see details we couldn't see before, showing us new possibilities and finding new ways to develop innovative solutions.
Back in the 80s, Francesco Cirillo, a university student, came up with a revolutionary technique that helped him finish his assignments and achieve graduation. What did he do? He paid consistent attention to his task for 10 minutes and rested for 5 minutes. He believed that resting in between allowed his mind and focus capacity to relax, improving his concentration quality.
The Pomodoro Technique (as he called it in his book) developed a 25-minute lapse of intense concentration to work and then 5-10 minutes breaks in between.
Every four "pomodoros" (working lapses), the practitioners must take a 25-30 minute break to relax and energize their concentration capacity.
It generally works really well and helps you achieve things more efficiently.
Having a visual board where you can see your tasks clearly is a simple and valuable trick. It helps you gain a bigger perspective on your creative project and to stay focused and productive.
It also lets you stay on top of things and feel free from thinking about too many projects simultaneously.
Creative block? No worries
Creative blocks are natural. The way we approach them is what makes a huge difference.
After reading this article, you may be aware of valuable ways to overcome creative block, prevent creative stagnation, and also simple tools to become more productive.
There are many more strategies to help you become free from the threatening aspect of a creative block. We invite you to take whatever suits you best and put it into practice.
Don't let the monsters of high pressure, self-doubt, and procrastination devour your creative capacity and take away the fun from the job.