How to overcome your creative block

Creative blocks are very common for us artists but what are they? Why do we get them? And, most importantly, how do we get out of a creative block?
These blocks can take many different forms, from a lack of inspiration to a feeling of overwhelm or self-doubt, and they are exhausting and frustrating.

Whatever the cause they are just there, preventing you from producing your best work. And it sucks!

I have had few of them throughout the years and I just couldn’t understand why. So, as I do, I went on a quest trying to find out more.


“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
- Vincent Van Gogh


As it turns out, a creative block works very close to your inspiration and work ethic. You can learn to become so focused that a block is just a tiny distraction, rather than a catastrophe! 

A creative block is a psychological phenomenon where an artist experiences a temporary inability to access their creative abilities, resulting in a lack of inspiration, motivation, and productivity.

Creative blocks happen for different reasons:

  1. Mental exhaustion: You are overworked, stressed, or burned out, it can drain your creativity and leave you feeling uninspired.

  2. Fear and self-doubt: You fear failure or have self-doubt about your abilities, and it prevents you from taking risks or trying new things.

  3. Lack of direction/focus: You have to many ideas but not a clear direction or goal, so it becomes challenging to know what to create.

  4. Negative feedback: Sometimes, external factors such as negative feedback, criticism or even a bad comment on social media, can impact your creativity and lead to a creative block.

  5. Personal events: The loss of a loved one, family events, traumatic events. Sometimes also very happy events can lead to a creative block.

Now, I’m not a psychologist and if you do need help or suffer from depression, please get in touch with someone that can help you!

I’m just an artist that has spent time trying to understand the topic after I suffered a concussion.

I was hanging a painting (true story!) and I hit my head, really really hard on a door frame I didn’t realise was so close. I gave myself a concussion hanging a canvas - which is borderline ridiculous for an artist!! - and after that I really struggled to concentrate, and going back to the studio felt impossible.

But I did, and let me tell you what I learned!


Take a break

Sometimes, the best way to overcome a creative block is to simply take a break. Step away from your work for a bit, and do something else that you enjoy. This could be something active, like going for a walk or going to the gym, or something more relaxed, like reading a book or watching a movie. Taking a break can help to clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective when you return to your work.

Allow yourself few days to regenerate that brain of yours, but not so many that you loose your focus and habits.

A change in your environment will help you as well as not looking at your work for a while. If you've been working indoors for a long time, consider going outside for a bit to get some fresh air and change things up. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all it takes to get your creativity flowing again.

If you have established a strong work ethic, then taking a break it will allow you to grow as an artist.

If you haven't it's going to be way harder to come back to your creativity. Work on your habits and creativity will follow.


Experiment with different creative prompts and exercises

There are countless creative prompts and exercises out there that you can try to get your creative juices flowing. A creative challenge, some drawing prompts, or even brainstorming exercises. Experiment with different prompts and see what works for you.


Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques

This helped me a lot after my concussion. I was struggling to concentrate quite a lot so I started using the Headspace app with its relaxation techniques, meditation and deep breathing, and it did really help me.

This can be especially helpful if you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious.


Seek support from others

Getting help or feedback and support from others can help to overcome a creative block. Consider sharing your work with a friend or mentor, or joining a creative community.

Receiving feedback and support can help to boost your confidence and provide new ideas and inspiration, as well as some more focused ideas on what your next steps could be.


Reframe your mindset and focus on the process, not the outcome

If you're feeling stuck, it can be helpful to reframe your mindset and focus on the process, rather than the outcome. Instead of stressing about the end result, try to enjoy the creative process and focus on the journey. This can help to reduce pressure and allow your creativity to flow more freely.



Your creative ethic counts!

A strong work ethic is way more powerful than a creative block. Getting used to creative work every day, means that even in the days when you don't feel like doing it, you'll spend time in that creative space anyway. Your brain is used to, so it'll go there. 

And this is probably the most powerful way to get out of a creative block.

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up.” 
- Isabel Allende


Eventually, if you paint long enough, something will happen, you’ll get out of your creative block.

And, if the work you’ve done while you were in your creative block end up in the bin, it’s ok. It’s all about the process and the creative experimentation.

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