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As all creative people will know, there are times when you just can’t seem to focus on what you want to do; when all your creative juices have dried up and you’re left wondering what exactly is happening and how to fix it. These creative blocks are mostly dealt with in one of two main ways: working through them, or taking a break and doing something else for a while.

Take a break

Most people agree that taking a break is the best option. Trying to work through your block can be a difficult and stressful process, but if your work depends on your creativity, sometimes you simply have no choice. Looming deadlines and the thought of not being paid are not the most helpful things for your creativity, and if you decide to carry on working despite feeling distinctly uncreative, you run the risk of going in circles and getting nowhere. However, help is at hand. Even just a few minutes of distraction could clear your mind enough for you to feel enthusiastic about whatever project you’re stuck on.

In much the same way that everybody has different likes and dislikes, people will get over creative blocks using different techniques:

Get inspired

Some like to look through the work of their peers and idols. By looking at work that is imaginative and inspiring, you’ll hopefully come across something which sparks your interest and gets your own creativity flowing again. Just be wary of getting frustrated by all the great work you’re looking at, and not being able to use it as fuel for your own project.

Do something different

Others prefer to drop whatever they’re working on and do something different for a while instead. Whether it’s going for a walk, reading a book or doing some chores you’ve been avoiding for a while, if it distracts your mind briefly then chances are it could help you. This method can be a great way of dealing with creative blocks as you’re also getting other stuff done at the same time, but care should be taken that you don’t cross over the line from busting a block into procrastination. It’s all very well to distract yourself for a little while, but if you find yourself doing everything under the sun before getting back to whatever you were stuck on, then perhaps it’s time to buckle down and try to work through the block a bit more.

Move somewhere different

There are also people who prefer to work through their blocks, or don’t have the luxury of taking a break from their work. For them, a good solution can be to move somewhere different for a while and carry on working.  The beauty of laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots and modern working ethic often means that you can move somewhere different but still have access to everything you need for work. Your favourite café, a park or even just a different room in your house / office area could give you that little boost you need to continue with your work and get rid of the creative block.

Try your design skills in the kitchen

If none of the above works well for you and you’re still feeling completely uncreative in one area, you can get yourself feeling creative again by trying out new things. If you’re a designer, try a small craft project, or some creative cooking. Bento boxes are based on Japanese packed lunches where you create pretty layouts for your food. It might sound daft, but creating a tasty lunch for yourself and arranging/decorating it to look like a nice scene (or whatever else you fancy) could get those ideas rolling. You can then share your creation on a variety of picture based social networks like Flickr, Instagram, and Twitpic. If this sounds a bit radical or you don’t like to cook, try something smaller – maybe a handmade birthday card or making up a song with lyrics – anything could inspire you, even if you would never normally try it. And who knows, you might find a new hobby whilst you’re at it!

Conclusion

As a final note, the best thing you can do if you’re experiencing some kind of creative block is to recognise it. Nobody can be creative 24/7. They’re a perfectly normal part of the creative process, however frustrating they may be: once you’ve accepted that you’re suffering a creative block, you can work on getting out of it. Too many people get caught in a vicious cycle – worrying about your creativity and why it’s currently nowhere to be seen will often only make things worse. This is why it’s so important for professional creatives to understand that these things happen, and in most circumstances will work themselves out if given enough time.

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Posted by Anya Graham

Anya is interested in all aspects of web design, and enjoys reading articles on the subject. She currently works for an in-house web team Furness . You can also follow her on Twitter as well.

11 Comments

  1. It’s also worth reading “A Whack on the Side of the Head” which deals with thinking creatively and getting around common blocks people have.

    And not exactly trying to toot my own horn, but Crowdstorms, my recent project, is designed specifically with “overcoming creative blocks by thinking wrong” in mind.

  2. Thanks for the comment Josh,

    I look forward to hearing more about your Crowdstorms project! I think it could be really useful to so many people.

  3. really helpful and interesting at the same time..great read.thanks

  4. This is a great article! I’ve never really read up on handling creativity blocks, but I’m doing all of the above intuitively somehow. My favorite is cooking! I can also recommend cleaning. Nothing gets my mind off of things like half a day spent on tidying up the apartment. Plus a cleaner working environment is always more motivating.

  5. Thanks for your comments Alexander, I agree with you about cleaning! I always feel better when I’ve had a good tidy up =)

  6. Great ideas. Also going for a 20-min bike ride or meditating for 3 min is a great way to occupy your mind with something different, then get back to work.

  7. hey Anya, I’ve had this creative block for around 4 years now. I don’t know if you call this a creative block, but from the looks of it, it seems like one. I’ve tried relaxing and everything but nothing’s really working… any suggestions?

  8. Hi Kevin,

    thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been suffering for such a long time!

    I think that my answer to you depends on whether you feel you have a total creative block, or if it just involves on project.
    If there is just one thing you’re stuck on, then it could be that you just don’t find it inspiring at all. Forget about it – worrying that you’ve had a block on it for so long only makes these things worse – and ‘giving up’ on it (only temporarily!) may kick-start your creativity. Once you’ve stopped putting pressure on yourself to work on the project, you may find that things just flow and you’re no longer stuck.

    If this is full on creative block and you can’t work on anything, maybe it’s time for a more major change. If there is an aspect of your life that you are stressed about, or unhappy with, this can hugely affect creativity. If you can address the underlying issue (for example, working in a job you’re unhappy with, or finding more friends through taking up new hobbies) then chances are your creativity will start coming back. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, but hopefully it will help you.

    I hope you work things out!

  9. Good post! Cleaning up my workspace is a sort of first aid that seems to help. So does reading poetry (Mary Oliver & Billy Collins especially) or a return to my well-worn Artist’s Way. Also are you aware of the work of Robert Fritz?

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