Anyone who works (or plays) in a creative industry will be aware of the creative block. Those times when you're stuck for ideas, you can't think, you don't know what to create and you almost forget how to create. You lose all inspiration and the motivation to continue. The thought of being reliant on your creativity to get by becomes so overwhelming that it really gets you down. I've been there... over and over. I have found though, it's always possible to overcome it.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. It can be one of the big factors in why you're struggling creatively. Looking around at what everyone else is doing and achieving can really get you stuck in the mindset that maybe what you're doing just isn't good enough... or will it ever be? Working in a creative industry where there is so much competition and so many different levels of talent, you have to be so confident in what you're doing and what you can bring to the table. If you're not, you'll just get lost in it all.
Finding confidence in your work and your ability comes from within. It's this confidence that will push you through to the ideas and creations that keep you going. You know those times when you're on a high, when something great has just happened for you... you feel good, like you've succeeded, and the creativity just starts flowing. You need to find ways that keep you in that mindset, because that's the way you're going to push through and be the best you can be.
Following are a number of things I do when I feel like my creativity has disappeared and I'm desperate to get it back.
Take note of your late night thoughts
And I literally mean take note. Keep a notepad by your bed (or your phone on low screen brightness) and as you go to sleep, try thinking about what you're wanting to achieve the next day. Many of our best ideas happen as we're trying to fall asleep, and although it's not the best to keep your mind going when you're trying to shut it down, it might just be the key to finding your creativity again if you're feeling a bit lost for ideas.
I actually opened the notes app on my phone to write this part of the blog post last night, as I had subconsciously started to think up the words as I was trying to get to sleep. I didn't want to let it all slip away and struggle the next day to think it all back up again!
Look at what others are doing
So this step is a tricky one, as it can both help and hinder. If you jump straight into looking at people who are worlds ahead of you, you're bound to feel disheartened and will immediately be overwhelmed. The secret to healthy inspiration is to find people who you believe are on your level, and find inspiration in them. Let their passion for what they're doing rub off on you. Use it your advantage to find the courage and determination to want to be better.
Once you're in the head space where you want to push yourself towards what you know you're capable of, this is when you'll be fine to look at the work of those that you feel are truly succeeding in order to find inspiration.
I find Pinterest to be one of the most incredible places to find inspiration. It's packed full of the work of creative bloggers and entrepreneurs. If you follow the right people, you're bound to find images, while scrolling through, which spark the creativity in you to create something new.
Get out of your space
When you get stuck in the same place, every day, and the creativity just isn't happening, one of the best things you can do is go somewhere else.
If you don't need to work straight away, try heading outside for a walk, to the beach, to a lookout, even to a shopping centre. People-watch, see a movie, jump on the couch and read a book. Just get out of that place that is making you feel lost for ideas and experience something entirely different, whether nature, people, sights or sounds. Doing this can really clear the mind and get you off to a fresh start when you return to your work.
If you do need to keep working, grab your phone or laptop and take it to a different location. That could be a separate room in your building, a coffee shop or an outdoors location. You will find in doing this, something will come out of that mind of yours.
Listen, read or write
Sometimes we can get so stuck on what's happening online to the point where we forget there's more to life than a screen and the internet. There are other activities you can do that don't involve endlessly scrolling through websites or social media. You can pick up an actual book (not your Kindle or one on iBooks), and get lost in the pages. You can open a magazine and take in all the images, colours and articles. You can settle back and listen to an entire playlist of music that makes you feel good. You can also pick up a pen and start writing away.... thoughts, feelings, ideas, goals, dreams, achievements and anything else you can think of.
If you're sitting at a computer, staring pointlessly at the screen, it might be a good idea to step away from it for a little bit.
Create a mood board
I am definitely not the crafty type. When thinking about spending my time drawing, cutting, gluing or painting, my mind simply says "no thanks". I do have an exception though, and that is the creation of a mood board. Not just a few pictures in a folder on your computer or a new Pinterest board, but an actual, physical mood board.
Creating a mood board for your work space is a way to remind yourself of what inspires you and is an easy way to show yourself that your creativity is within, and that it's not going anywhere. You should have a pile of magazines somewhere in your home, otherwise run out and purchase a few. Sit on the floor, with a large piece of cardboard or a corkboard and pins. Open a magazine and start cutting away. Cut out anything that catches your eye. Words, clothing, people, objects, patterns. Get it all onto your mood board and don't be too careful about it. The more jumbled up the better. Once done, have a good look at what you've put together and you should be able to see what you're all about as a person and in turn, what direction you want to go creatively.
Try something completely differentRoutine is comfortable, however it isn't the best way to grow. I have found when I have completely disrupted my routine and done something entirely different to the usual, that's when I have created my best work. It's unexpected and it's almost confusing, because you'd think when you do something the same way over and over, you should get good at it and produce the best results. Not always!
Having a routine keeps me sane and also keeps my anxiety at bay, but it's been found that some of the most insane ones out there are the most full of creativity and ideas, so I try to keep that in mind :)
Wait it out
A creative block can sometimes be just a point in time where things are happening in your life that are contributing to feelings of overwhelm, stress or unhappiness. For this reason, it's hard to work. It's hard to create. It's hard to move forwards. The mind is a crazy thing and life is full of crazy situations. It's okay to focus on your happiness and growth, and if that doesn't involve being creative, just put it aside for now.
You don't need to stress yourself out even more by trying to do something that isn't helping, and never feel guilty for taking a break. Focus on you and fill yourself back up with positivity first. You will then feel good to continue.