Breaking Through Creative Blocks


I am sure that I am no different than most people that are involved in any creative job in that I occasionally go through a creative block. It is a scary place. Normally ideas come to me easily. In fact, sometimes it is hard to keep up. Sometimes they will arrive just as I am nodding off to sleep and I have to get up, grab my sketchbook and jot them down. Note to self-keep sketchbook by bed.
For me there are two types of creative blocks: one is when I’m working on a project and I just hit a wall and cannot think of any good ideas. That is another thing, most of my blocks are not really times of no ideas at all but just that they are times of less and bad ideas-let’s call them non A-game ideas. Ideas that are common or stereotypical.  The other type of creative block is a general block. I’m not working on any specific project but at the same time I’m not having any good ideas just pop into my head either.

What to do?
I usually panic if only a little bit. Experience has taught me that, “…this to shall pass” Once I recover, I decide what method I am going to use to get through this tough time:

  1. I will usually leave a project alone for a time. Get away from it, get a fresh perspective. This option is available if the deadline allows.
  2. Another trick I have learned is to go and look at good work either on-line or in a book. Nothing gets me more motivated to come up with ideas than seeing other good ideas. I’m not talking about stealing ideas here either but just looking at good work. It seems to get the creative juices flowing. I never did like that saying, “creative juices”.
  3. If deadline doesn’t allow getting away-I will draw. Drawing anything will usually get me back on track. It gets the right side of my brain working again. Try drawing with your non-dominant hand for an extra zap. Try drawing a scene by drawing only the negative spaces or try drawing an object in front of by drawing the side of it you can’t see. There are a lot of tricks out there.
  4. For more general creative blocks I’ll try all of the above plus I will try drawing someplace other than my studio. I can get too comfortable in the studio and I find this can lead to a block. Definitely getting away from the computer helps.
  5. Do something completely different. Do filing, update your mailing list, do some marketing; there is always something tedious to do. Tedious work will usually jolt me back into art mode if only to get away from it.
  6. Sometimes the only thing that will get you through a creative block is to just keep going. Keep creating until you find your not in a block anymore.

Welcome to the other side of the block
What ever you do don’t panic for too long-that will just prolong the torture. Sometimes these blocks are telling you that you are working too hard. You could look at it as an opportunity to regroup and maybe the experiments you use to try to get you out of a block actually result in good work, who knows.

What do you do when the block strikes? Let me know.

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