How to overcome a creative block: A guide to overcoming creators anxiety, fear, and lack of imagination
Sometimes my creativity feels like a shy kitten that needs coaxing to come on out from under the bed. I have spent days, weeks and years in a creative block – these ruts are all-consuming and have me feeling farthest from my Self than I ever feel.
Whether I blamed depression or just a good ol’ creative block, the common threads were that I felt like I personally was utter shit, that I could never create again, and that all my good years were behind me. Spoiler alert: it’s not true for me and it’s not true for you.
Depression and creative blocks can definitely cramp some style, but it’s just an ingredient to the recipe which is life (woah, bruh).
No, but seriously.
Depression and ruts are one thing, what you choose to do once you recognize that you’re feeling that is completely up to you, regardless of the intensity in which these ingredients fuck up your day-to-day. At the end of the day, there is still a recipe you can whip up to overcome these issues. It may take a few hours, days, weeks, but it still works with time… With TLC anything can grow again, including your creativity.
Without further ado, let’s get into a Cheeky Hippies 5-Step Guide for How To Overcome A Creative Block.
# 1 – TAKE A CONSCIOUS BREAK
What’s a conscious break? It is where—rather than giving up and throwing everything on the floor in a childish tantrum (literally or not)— you decide that you need a break from creativity. That you’ll be giving each other space, for an undetermined period of time, so that you both can figure out que pasa and where’s the love, without driving yourself crazy asking “WTF IS WRONG WITH ME?” in fevered bursts.
It is where you give yourself time to heal, do your thing, relax and chillax.
It’s an inconsequential, undetermined period of time to do whatever the fuck you please, because you have bigger things to think about than why your creativity has decided to leave you high and dry at the moment.
You’re deciding to consciously shake off the ego-hurt which is the perception that you’re failing utterly at what ever it is that you’re trying to do.
The key words here are deciding, consciously, and heal. You have to CHOOSE to take a break rather than give up – the two are completely different.
K. Have you decided to take a conscious break? Let’s do this.
# 2 – COMMIT TO UTTER GARBAGE, THEN DO IT
The goal to reconnecting with your creativity is a weird mix of not caring about getting your creativity “back” and allowing yourself to reset, all in order to eventually get your mojo spewing out rainbows again. Seems counter-intuitive and all, but that’s kind of the point.
You need to commit to creating utter shit, and then move on so that you’re not paralyzed every time you’re about to do something.
I’m not saying you have to be fearless, I’m saying that you need to kind of act fearless — long enough that you get to the table and get to work on something, anything. You must feel the fear and do it anyway.
I am a big believer that love and fear are some of the biggest players in our mind-game, and they take turns with who is metaphorically driving the car, as Elizabeth Gilbert put it in Big Magic! She also points our that “your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome” (Gilbert, 23).
So that’s the thing, if you’ve been paralyzed by fear you must be bold and remember that whether you create gold or garbage it doesn’t matter, because it’s all for the process. If you commit to creating something horrible, then you’ll start creating, and you’ll learn, and you’ll improve with time. That’s the game, babes.
# 3 – LEARN SOMETHING NEW
The great thing about 2018 is that you have, more than ever, everything you could want at your fingertips. Sure, you may not want to (or be able to) drop a few hundies on various courses, materials, etc, but you can still learn new things.
Just go crae-crae exploring. Get an inexpensive notebook (hello, Dollar Store) and do your thang. LEARN. TAKE NOTES.
Even if you’ll never actually do the thing.
Especially even if you think you’ll never be as good as that person.
And yes, even if it’s something you think you could never actually be into.
Even if you’re doing it ironically.
Just do it, will you?
# 4 – GET INSPIRED
Number two is my ultimate favourite, because it’s the act of giving yourself permission to spend boatloads of time getting inspired and doing things like:
- watching TedX talks
- listening to music loudly (with potentially awkward dance moves thrown into the mix)
- learn new things on Skillshare
- go for a walk and notice things I wouldn’t have regularly noticed
- take pictures of stuff with a different perspective
- unleash the inner embarrassing hipster within you
- go get ice-cream
- try a new cafe
- read a book (Looking for ideas? Look at our library)
- go window shopping with a bestie (or alone)
- taking a luxurious bath – candles, fave drink, good vibes, low light, plush and warm towels
Getting inspired may look vastly different to you than it does to me, but at the end of the day, it’s all about letting go and giving yourself the time and space to truly enjoy what’s in front of you now.
It’s about reconnecting with The Now and your brain’s pleasure and reward centre (hello serotonin and dopamine, I’ve missed you so).
If you’re going through a rough time and everything sounds like you’d rather hide in your bed and watch shitty movies, well, promise me you’re enjoying those movies. If not, I beg of you to reach out to a friend, talk about what you’re going through and then ask them to #truthbomb you.
What I mean is, your friend will have an unsullied memory what used to bring you joy and what used to make you feel good. If you complain, saying “ughhhh that’s not going to help, everything is shit”, I want you to seriously listen to your friend when they tell you “get the fuck over yourself and do X”. Go for a walk, take a shower, and then do stuff.
# 5 – SAY YES TO ALL IDEAS
The thing about learning and exploring is that it’s like a warm-up for your brain. Your brain is a machine that’s made to make connections and for you to learn how to improve your life. When you let go, learn, and then say YES, you’re firming up that confidence that your brain needs to give you new ideas.
ANY idea is a good idea when you’re giving yourself a creative break.
Creativity is like spirituality, the more you chase it the more you lose sense of what it’s really about. It’s super personal, it can be fragile and fickle, and more than anything, it’s a relationship that you have to nurture.
Creative blocks sometimes are connected to emotional blocks — that is, the fear of being vulnerable, or the reluctance to connect to a painful truth, or a ball of stress that isn’t getting untangled. If you’re not taking care of yourself, how can you expect your creativity to work for you? You are your creativity, and your creativity is you.
Self-care is important, essential, and unfortunately, can be an embarrassing subject. I’m here, however, to remind you to get the fuck over it and that you need it. You might not want it yet, but with time you will. With time you’ll recognize that you look forward to those moments you take to recharge and reconnect.
Come here if you need a reminder! What you might have forgotten is that we’re a team. We’re a community and a brethren. Succeeding all alone doesn’t taste nearly as good as succeeding with a team of people who supported you all the way to the top. Think about that.
Things that make me feel better:
Mark Manson’s website and book
Museums, parks, cafes, new books, Christine Olmstead’s art
Coffee in my favorite mug
These wonderful images were found on Unsplash and then edited.