At some point in many creative people’s lives, artistic momentum can come to an immediate halt. Maybe your basket of ideas is empty or your hands are just uncooperative. This feeling of creative block can render even the best artists feeling helpless. It’s a demoralizing presence that can linger for a few days or years — especially when art keeps you sane.
Several reasons could be behind the block: it could be a symptom of stress or a sign that it’s time to change things in your art — maybe change your tools or enroll in a music school . A creative block can also be the big plateau you need to endure before you make a big leap. No matter what the reason is, however, creative blocks happen. And they bring anxiety and turmoil.
Whatever the root of the block is, and whatever your medium is, if you’re experiencing a creative block, overcoming it lies in your actions and attitude. Here are some exercises that can help you regain your productivity.
Clean Your Studio
When you feel trapped in an endless cycle of trying and failing to be productive, put your tools down and switch up your workspace. Instead of resenting this period, embrace it and use it as an opportunity to bring order to your studio or creative space.
Refresh how your space looks. Paint the walls, clean the floors, organize your instruments, sharpen pencils, stretch canvases — do everything to change the look of your creative space. Completing the “small” tasks you may have ignored before when your work is going well is a low-stress way to promote productivity in the studio.
As you clean your creative space, use this time to evaluate and discard old creations but with restraint. Depressing creativity blocks can cause you to throw away everything you do, an action you may regret later. Instead, de-clutter but look at the positives in your archive. Refrain from focusing on your shortcomings and focus on your bright spots.
Make notes on your discoveries and keep music sheets, essays or artworks that you can still draw inspiration from. Also, these pieces will remind you of what you can do and that you’re a great artist.
New ideas are often born when you’re busy with cleaning (or other chores). So, make sure you have a notepad nearby.
Draw Inspiration from Other Artists
If creating an original work feels impossible, get inspiration from existing artworks or music to ease you in the right direction. Look to artists who you admire, whether historical or contemporary, and try to recreate their works. As you re-try their works, draw inspiration from their techniques. How did they come about with their masterpieces?
Plagiarism is a sin in the world of artistry but learning from the techniques of others is not.
Try a Different Medium
Exploring a new medium is another low-stress way to fight your creative’s block. Learning that your skillset lies in another art-making medium gives you the freedom to create without expecting excellent work. For instance, if you’re a painter, try assembling collages or modeling with clay. If you’re a sculptor, try your hand at photography.
Changing your medium, whether permanently or temporarily approaches your creativity block head-on. It can also defuse any anxiety on your performance.
Focus on Your Growth or Process
The art of creating art is more rewarding than the result. Making music or illustrating an image is a fascinating journey, and reminding yourself of the rewards of that journey is the first step to overcoming your creative block.
Shift your focus away from the outcome of your labor. Instead, notice the delight of the tools, the mistakes and the sound of your activity. Observe the textures, smells, colors and sounds of your art. When anxiety or criticism intrudes your thoughts, let them go. Instead, immerse in the sensory pleasures of the creation process to calm your mind and gain a better perspective.
Start a New Series
An artistic series is composed of many works that revolve around a single theme or idea. Arriving at the idea may seem stressful, especially when you feel you’ve run out of ideas. Fortunately, you can simplify the process by putting a time limit on your choice of theme. Give yourself a few minutes to create an idea then commit to it.
The idea need not be the best of the best. You can draw inspiration from an ordinary object like an apple. Change your methods and intent for each piece in your series. Also, changing the perspective or lighting presents you with better possibilities.
Creative blocks are frustrating, but they need not last forever. A little mix and match with your craft can help you break free from the biggest blocks.