6 WAYS TO OVERCOME CREATIVE MENTAL BLOCKS

Devin Brooks
 

You've got this amazing idea for a project.

You're all fired up. It's the best idea you've ever had, and you're going to make it right now. You sit down (or stand up), roll your shoulders, and...you're stuck.

The brain juice stops flowing. You want to begin, but the canvas is blank, and you can't figure out a way to start.

This kind of stuck also happens during projects that are already started. You're deep in your project, one with the muse (I'm cheesy), when boom. Your muse up and peaced out.

It's okay. It's a bitch, but definitely manageable. Here's six ways you can beat your creative blocks to keep on creating:

 

1. power through

My first suggestion would be to power through. If I'm absolutely stuck when I'm writing, I'll take something I do know and think about how it might apply to my current scene.

For example, once I was writing a scene between my protagonist and her best friend. I had been having a hard time figuring out how to get them to reconnect after they hadn't seen each other for years.

My main character had to act different than her usual spiel, because this was an unusual situation. Still, she was stubborn. I reviewed her backstory and her experiences, and I found a tiny blip of something that had happened years ago.

That was enough inspiration to give me an idea to push forward. Will it stay? Maybe, maybe not, but it's the progress that counts.

You might want to give your creative block a talking to. Figure out what it is about your scene that's stuck, and try to find ways, either directly or, like I did, indirectly, to unknot the issue.

 

2. leave it alone for a while

There's no harm in taking a break. In fact, you could even flat-out quit for a while. It's not giving up. If the project is important to you, your brain will work on it even when you're not aware of it.

While you're Netflix-ing on the couch, your mind will be hard at work solving your problems. This is a stage in the creative process called incubation:

During Incubation, you’re allowing your unconscious mind to work on the problem. It happens while you’re “taking an easy walk over wooded hills,” or while you’re sleeping. Whatever you do to achieve “complete physical freshness and quiet well-being.”
— Quartz

If you're really stuck with nowhere to go, consider leaving your project be for a while. Trust me: you'll come back.

 

3. Combine ideas

I find this method so, so useful. Besides writing, I also act, design and draw. Often times when I'm at a roadblock, or when I'm trying to work out an aspect of the plot or character, I'll use another one of my creative habits to solve the problem.

I use drawing the most. In fact, I often start with rough sketches of characters when I'm writing their backstory. Every time I think I've got it done just by writing, I'll find something unexpected about a character through drawing.

You don't have to be a professional or even talented at any of it. Just try something new to see how you can access different parts of your mind for a greater understanding of your project.

 

4. Go for a walk

Or go for another activity. Workout. Cook. Invest in an activity that brings you joy and separate yourself from your project.

Engaging in something you like and is achievable right now helps reduce the stress of a creative block. There's very little you can accomplish when you're stressed and tense all over anyway.

Practice methods of releasing stress and anxiety and encourage your mental flow to return. When you've removed the points of tension within your mind, you're ready to return to work.

Removing stress may not solve the creative block immediately, but it prepares your mind to make the connections and new ideas that will.

 

5. create nonsense 

Really. Produce gibberish. Move to a blank canvas and pour out whatever your mind makes up. Don't hold back: it's going to be ridiculous, and that's the point.

It may even make you laugh, which will mean you're well on your way to creative block recovery.

Actually, you might even find that some of your nonsense isn't even nonsense at all. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in the linear timeline of a project that you don't allow your mind to explore other possibilities for your work.

Creating nonsense allows your imagination to go on a joy-ride. You might like the results more than you think.

 

6. Reach for what inspires you

Finally, reach for what inspires you. Movies, books, sculptures, your cat. Whatever it is, surrounding yourself with what inspires you is a form of encouragement: it keeps your mind open to new ideas.

It's perfectly all right to steal some ideas from what inspires you. Spoiler alert: many, many, many great creative people have done it. Picasso even endorses it:

Good artists copy; great artists steal.
— Picasso

Not to say you should plagiarize, but if borrowing an idea of two helps you get over your creative block, then I say do it, woman, do it.

FURTHER READING: 11 ESSENTIALS FOR THE CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR

What about you? How do you get over your creative mental blocks? Let me know in the comments below!


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