To be honest, I wasn’t feeling that creative or enthusiastic in general earlier today – so I thought I’d write an article about feeling creatively blocked ….
This isn’t just an article about writer’s block but about artist’s block and any form of creative block too, as well as eight ways to circumvent it. To hack your own creativty, so to speak.
I’m not going to speculate about the causes of writer’s block and artist’s block, since they can vary between writers/artists. They can feel different every time and there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all reason for why it happens. I don’t know, things which come up with the ONE TRUE REASON behind creative blockages can seem somewhat limited to me.
So, instead, I’m going to offer eight ideas about how to get around it when it strikes. Some of these are fairly conventional, some aren’t. You have been warned:
1) Switch to another form of creativity – This may not apply to everyone, but it can work wonders. I write fiction and poetry as well as drawing pictures, comics and occasionally making crappy animations. So, if I feel blocked with one of these things then it can sometimes be solved by switching to another one of them. Just go for the one which seems the most spontaneous, easy and relaxing and you may find that you were feeling more creative than you thought you were. For me, this is usually art rather than writing – and usually random pictures rather than comics. It may differ for you, but if you enjoy several forms of creativity, then the principle is still the same.
2) Draw fan art – This is one thing which can help with creative blocks when it comes to art. Sometimes the problem isn’t that you feel no enthusiasm for making art, but that you just can’t think of anything to draw, paint etc… Well, this is where fan art comes in handy, since it saves you having to come up with your own character designs etc.. and as long as it’s strictly non-profit and clearly labelled as fan art, then there aren’t usually any issues with it. It can be a good way to get yourself back into a creative state of mind. The same applies to fan fiction for writers (although if you’re writing fan fiction based on some things, then don’t post it online – some authors are fairly anti-fan fiction, Anne Rice is a famous example).
In fact, drawing fan art was how I was able to get out of my creative block earlier today (you can see it here if you’re interested ) .
3) Re-draw your old art – This is similar to the previous point, but it can be a lot more satisfying. This is especially true if you’re re-drawing a really old drawing too, since it’ll show you how much you have improved as an artist since you drew the original picture. This might make you feel more inspired or confident about your artistic abilities too.
4) Make something crappy – I mean it, draw the worst picture you can think of, write some really clunky and cliched fiction – it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. In fact, you can throw it away afterwards if you want to. At the very least, if it doesn’t ease you back into the creative flow, then it might at least show you the kind of thing you might want to write or draw when you’re feeling more creative.
For example: although there are some reasonably good drawings on my DeviantART gallery, there are some pretty crappy ones I’ve made when I’ve felt really uninspired too. The odd thing, and this always puzzles me, is that sometimes these drawings tend to get more views, favourites etc… than the ones I’m really proud of. So, although you might not think that a particular drawing or story you’ve made is any good, your audience might think different.
5) Keep a schedule: If you create things regularly and set yourself a schedule for doing this (eg: at least one drawing per day or writing a certain number of words per day), then after a while it kind of has it’s own rhythm and momentum to it. It may sound strange, but this momentum can carry you through some creative blocks. Sometimes posting your work online can help you to keep a creative schedule and stick to it most of the time.
Of course, creative blocks can feel a lot worse if you’re on a schedule too – but if that happens, then see the previous point.
6) Drugs & alcohol: It’d be a lie to say that there have been no occasions in the history of humanity where these have helped people with creative blocks, but it’s probably less common than popular mythology suggests (people like Hunter S.Thompson are the exception rather than the rule) and it obviously carries it’s own risks too. Not to mention that actually writing or drawing when under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol will probably produce low-quality and erratic work too, due to the lack of hand-eye co-ordination that being under the influence can cause.
Plus, any wonderful creative insights which might come into your mind when you’re drunk or high or whatever may well end up being forgotten afterwards. It’s quite an unreliable way to get past creative blocks and should only be used as an absolute last resort, if at all.
In fact, when you’re actually creating things, it’s probably just a good idea to just stick to sugar, caffeine and (if you smoke – if you don’t, then this doesn’t apply to you) nicotine at the absolute most. Taking anything stronger than these things when you’re actually creating is likely to lower the quality of your work – although it’s probably a good way to follow #4 on this list and a rather crappy way to follow #7 on this list, due to the likelihood of forgetting things afterwards or getting too distracted).
7) Take a break and daydream : This can work wonders. Just be sure to daydream about whatever you want to daydream about and make sure that it feels good. Every daydream, even the most idle one about sitting beside a swimming pool in a fancy hotel or going on a date with someone you fancy etc… has a story behind it, however cliched or minimalist it might be. If you’re daydreaming, you’re creating and storytelling. This might put you in a more creative mood in general.
Secondly, daydreaming about something also means that you’re taking a break from the thing you’re trying to write or draw. Sitting there in front of a blank page and just feeling frustrated is about the worst way to get through a creative block. This is probably a cliche, but the blank page has a lot more patience than you do and will win any staring contest.
But I can’t think of anything to daydream about, even my imagination is blocked? If this is the case, then distract yourself with someone else’s imagination. Watch TV, play a video game, read a comic book, surf the internet. Immerse yourself in stories. At the least, it might inspire you to follow #2 on this list. At the most, it’ll get you back into a creative, storytelling kind of mindset again. Especially if you watch/read something really crappy and think “I can do better than that” (apparently, this exact sentiment has started at least one or two writing careers).
8) Follow your baser instincts: Which is basically a fancy way of saying “write something which provokes a reaction in you”. I’ll leave the exact type of reaction up to your imagination, but you can probably guess what I’m talking about here. Reactions can be a powerful source of inspiration when it comes to actually writing something .
A word of warning – It probably isn’t a good idea to publish any of the stuff you write whilst following this advice (if you absolutely have to, then at least use a pseudonym). But it can get you back into a more creative and enthusiastic state of mind and might make you feel more enthusiastic about your other creative projects. Plus, practice is practice.
So, there you have it, eight eccentric ways to beat a creative block. Good luck 🙂