Table of Contents
1. Get outside, be in nature 2. Don't overthink it or even try to fight it 3. Find inspiration from other artists 4. Let go and give permission 5. Changing the narrative 6. Being in the present moment 7. Take it at your own pace 8. Start by creating something small 9. Avoid the “should do’s” 10. Follow your intuition
Let's be honest with ourselves. We all get creative blocks from time to time. Blank canvas syndrome
can be debilitating, especially when you allow your negative thoughts and feelings of inadequacy to creep in.
Over the years I have found that creative blocks, while unpleasant, are also just a part of the creation process. You can't escape them, so why not join them, accept them, and allow yourself permission to NOT create.
Here are some of the ways that I have learned to combat my creative blocks.
1. Get outside, be in nature
When I notice and acknowledge that I am in a creative slump, one of the first and easiest ways for me to avoid negative thoughts is to get outside. Whether I am taking my fur child, Lucy for a walk or heading to one of my favorite landscapes, this is a strategy that works nearly every time.
What I love most about being outside is the fresh air and the ability to observe my surroundings to see what catches my creative eye and then snapping pictures of it to refer back to later for inspiration.
Sometimes all it takes is for me to step away from responsibilities filled life to feel relieved and relaxed enough to decompress in order to be able to create just for the fun of it - no pressure. Nature is my ultimate remedy for creative blocks.
2. Don't overthink it or even try to fight it
My mind is in a constant state of thought and can at times be my worst enemy when I am stuck in a creative rut. Over the years and with a lot of practice in self-awareness, I have found that over thinking and over analyzing is a creativity destroyer and a sure way to lose myself if I do not practice awareness.
One of the ways that I am able to come out of my spinning negative thoughts is to simply acknowledge and break them down in writing. Oftentimes I have dialogue with myself, speaking out loud about how I am feeling and ways that I can overcome them.
3. Find inspiration from other artists
Most recently, I have found that looking through books about accomplished artists has been a go to method in finding inspiration and working through creative slumps. Being able to see what others have created and learning about how they were able to harness their creativity while working through personal struggles motivates me and brings a sense of appreciation for my own process, knowing that I can relate.
4. Let go and give permission
It is okay to be unproductive. This is something that has taken me a long time to truly believe and is still not always easy to do, but by practicing daily how to let go of false expectations I am finally able to learn how to give myself permission to just be. It is okay to not produce, because sometimes you need that time and space in your head in order for ideas and creativity to leak through the windows and come through the glass to be seen.
5. Changing the narrative
There is nothing more damaging than plaguing your mind with negative and false narratives. "I can't create," has been a phrase sewn to me like a badge for most of my life and held me back in tremendous ways. When I was finally able to open myself up to my creative side through having a positive support system and working through the lies I clung to from my youth, I was able to rewrite that narrative in a more positive and truthful light.
Now, I consider my creativity as a form of play. The moment “I can’t create” begins to creep up, I acknowledge it, let it go and change those thoughts to, "I'm just playing," and ask myself “if I were to create, what would it be and how would I do it?” Feeling playful and understanding in my creative process relieves the pressure to do so, making it a whole lot more enjoyable!
6. Being in the present moment
This is a necessary skill in every area of my life, and significantly supports my creative process.
I find that when my mind is all over the place, the best way to refocus is to be still and ask myself, “At this moment, what are you experiencing and what can you do about it right now?”
By shifting my focus to the present moment and recognizing what I can and cannot control is a great way to clear out any distractions. One way that I do this when I am creating is by finding solitude to simply sit and think about what I am creating. Sometimes all I do is sit. What matters is not that I am thinking about being creative, but instead that I am practicing being aware enough to be in the present moment and not to jump ahead of the process.
By being in the moment I am able to notice the shapes, dimensions, and depth of what I am observing. Hills, trees, and clouds pose questions, "I wonder how I would present this image in front of me…." and then, I pick up my paintbrush.
This technique has helped improve my mindfulness especially when I am in the midst of creating and my mind starts to veer off to more stressful situations that I in no way can control or do anything about in that moment. Being present and practicing mindfulness has not only helped me in my ability to create but has also improved my overall quality of life!
7. Take it at your own pace
The moment I apply pressure to my timeline, is the moment I cannot create at all. Once again, talking to myself by asking questions and being aware of my thoughts and feelings helps a lot. “Why do I feel the need to rush through this?” Or, “Why does it matter if the person next to me is farther along in the process?” By working at my own pace, it alleviates the expectations and pressure, which most often results in my producing something I am proud of.
8. Start by creating something small
Often a way that I work through my stifled creative energy is by sketching or doing a small and simple watercolor painting of whatever catches my eye. This helps to jumpstart my creative juices.
9. Avoid the “should do’s”
This one is particularly challenging, because it is near impossible to escape. No matter where you turn, our society indoctrinates us at an early age to feel like success is measured by the things we "should" do (i.e. you "should" go to college, you "should" get a real job, you "should" get married and have children...) There is a "should '' for everything in life and once you buy into it, it is very difficult to get your money back.
By avoiding the “should” cycle it is so much easier to create freely without judgement, because really the only person judging you is yourself!
10. Follow your intuition
The happiest I have ever been, the most productive I have been, and the most money that I have ever made has come from following my intuition. I have found that when I harness my intuition and tune into the present moment, I am the greatest version of myself as an artist, a wife, and a contributing member of the community that I love so much!
To wrap this all up, I want to acknowledge that I still have days, weeks, months when I have creative blocks, but what is most important is that I no longer allow myself to marinate in them. Instead, I tap into one or all of the methods that I have mentioned above. Please, be kind to yourself and know that life happens, we all go through ups and downs and therefore, some days will naturally be better than others. I challenge you to let this be okay.
Follow your intuition, be present, and give yourself permission to feel and be exactly who you are.