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9 Ways to deal with a creative block

Updated on September 6, 2013
Break through your creative block!
Break through your creative block!

Anybody who's ever undertaken a creative project in any capacity will know what it's like to hit a wall - not physically hit a wall, there's not much logic in that and you're likely to break a hand! The metaphorical creative wall also known as a block or a rut.

The place you get to just after you've settled yourself into a false sense of security about how well you're doing.

It's a tough, frustratingly infuriating place to be and if you're in it right now, you'll know that you start feeling like you can't think, like finding a solution to it is impossible - a pilgrimage for the holy grail of creative solutions!

Luckily there are so many ways to break through a creative block, try using some of these methods the next time you’re stuck with a project and pull yourself out of a rut!

Out of inspiration? Keep going, it won't last forever!
Out of inspiration? Keep going, it won't last forever!

Find your inspiration

INSPIRE yourself!

Get your mind into a place where you can start thinking creatively.

1. Overcome the imposter syndrome. It's tough to be inspired if you're holding yourself back. One of the most common things we do that stop ourselves moving forward is the imposter syndrome. The mentality that we're not good enough. We worry that because we think we’re not up to scratch we'll be found out at any moment, our jobs will be taken away, given to somebody worthy and our foreheads will be slapped with a sticker saying 'imposter'. It's an anxiety that we all go through and one of the best ways to overcome it is to realize that the rest of the world is going through it too. So relax, if we’re all imposters you’re flying safely under the radar because the chance that you, out of the billions of other people in the world will be caught, is minimal.

2. Write a 60 second story. To jump start inspiration you need to make unique thought connections.An easy way to do that is to choose two characters, an emotion and a setting to make up a quick story.The more imaginative and unrealistic, the better. The point is to free your mind by creating original, unusual connections to get your imagination going. For example; Doctor, Monkey, happy and parking lot. After winning an Emmy, the Doctor was so happy, he spent hours dancing with a monkey in the parking lot.

3. Go fishing. When faced with a particularly difficult problem, Thomas Edison would go fishing but always came back with no fish. He said that while he was out, he knew that no-one would bother him and because he used no bait, the fish wouldn't either! He used props to avoid interruptions and stop his mind wandering back to everyday problems so that he could focus on bigger, more important issues.So if you're looking for inspiration take a book, find a quiet place to settle and spend some undisturbed thinking time, pretending to read.

Be inspired to rip a hole through your creative block!
Be inspired to rip a hole through your creative block!

Use music to encourage creativity

CREATE ideas with your new-found inspiration!

Once you've inspired yourself into a creative frame of mind, start using your inspiration to create new ideas.

1. Interview yourself. Imagine yourself in the future. Ten years from now, having achieved everything you're after, and interview yourself. Ask the hard hitting questions, find out what steps you took to get there. Taking a trip back to the future, can help you see what you need to do now - it worked for Michael J Fox?

2. Try Free Writing Hold your topic or problem in mind and spend an allocated period of time writing whatever thoughts pop up. Allowing yourself the freedom to write without judgement, correction or logical thinking, can bring out your most creative side.

3. Imagine someone else’s solution. We all have a smart friend. Someone everyone goes to with their problems because they always seem to know what to do. Step into their shoes for a moment, how would they tackle your project? What would they create? If you are the smart friend, imagine what your fun friend would do - they may not be the brightest bulb in the house, but they always manage to light up a room?

Open your mind, go forth and create!
Open your mind, go forth and create!

Create everything, create anything as long as you create something!

ACT on your ideas to make them a reality!

So you've inspired yourself to create and have managed to come up with some unique and imaginative ideas, but they're almost useless if you don't put them into action!

1. Declare a DAY. We're so used to juggling a few tasks at a time that it can sometimes feel like none of them are moving forward. Declare a day. Break it down into 45 minute work segments, with 15 minute breaks and set aside everything else to work on one project only. You'll avoid the distraction and pressure of your usual to-do list and by setting the challenge to do it in one day, your competitive side will make sure the job gets done.

2. Be the staff. Think of your mind as an office. You have a whole head full of staff, each individually ideal for working on different elements of a problem. Tap into your inner artist, accountant, designer, quality controller, manager and secretary at the right time to ensure your office is running effectively. Picture a real office environment, it's highly unlikely that your manager would allocate the secretary to design an ad layout, or that the artist would be assigned to work on a budget. Make sure you're approaching each angle of the job from the correct mind set to avoid making it harder than it needs to be.

3. Know when to quit. If you've been working relentlessly and have finally hit a wall.Walk away, throw in the towel - know when to quit, temporarily. Our subconscious can be working on something in the background while our conscious mind concentrates on something else. Which is why it's often a good idea to step away from the project you’re stuck on, do something completely different, and come back to it later. You might find that while you were consciously watching Caesar Milan teach a dog to stop scaring the neighbors with that magical 'Ch!' sound, your subconscious was working on a solution to your problem.

Put your creative thoughts into action!
Put your creative thoughts into action!

If you’re still sinking in the quick sand of a creative rut, check out Mr Bingo, for an Illustrator’s take on things.

Finally, don’t panic. The last thing you want to be doing while grappling in the darkness of a creative block is to settle for an average idea just to have something completed by the end of the day.

Mediocre ideas being passed off as final works are creative clutter.

Remember that you will get past a block, you won’t be stuck in a rut forever, banging your head against the creative wall for eternity. At some point the lightning bolt of inspiration will strike, you’ll feel your brain light up with ideas, and your creativity will flow again. It might be happening right now…

Check out Focus by Jergen Wolff for tips on how to focus your energy so can put your creative ideas into action

Check out Creativity Now by Jergen Wolff for more tips on unleashing your creativity!

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    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Excellent! I really enjoyed reading these great ideas and hope I never have to use them, but if I do, I will be back!

    • searchinsany profile image

      Alexander Gibb 3 years ago from UK

      This is an excellent Hub, complete with amazing images and interesting videos. Oh by the way, some great suggestions too!

    • Jetstream profile image
      Author

      The Jetstream 3 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for the great feedback - creative block is so frustrating! Glad we could help. If you have any other ideas on how to break a creative block or what's worked for you, we'd really like to hear them!

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