Working Through Creative Blocks

It's happened to all of us, things are going along fine, you are successfully doing your music/art, and then suddenly things stop. You have no ideas, you have no inspiration, you have no energy to go on.

The Artist's nightmare: hitting a brick wall…

You feel like you've hit a brick wall. All your hard work and momentum stops. Try as you might, you can't get going again. Things are at a standstill. 

What do you do?

  1. Don't panic.
  2. Realize this is normal and happens to everyone at sometime.
  3. Refrain from getting angry or frustrated. This only deepens the block.
  4. Introduce a disruption/distraction to what you are doing: go to the beach/park/forest, or go to the cinema/concert/museum. This can help reset your brain and creativity.
  5. Take a nap. Another way to reset.
  6. Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Get out of your workspace and get some fresh air and exercise. This can help clear your head and reset your brain.
  7. Realize that most blocks are imaginary! They are often brought on by fatigue, overwork, or some other external factor—when was the last time you ate a decent meal?
  8. Work on something else unrelated to what you were doing.
  9. Bounce your ideas off a trusted friend—they may be able to help you get a new or different perspective on things.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time, whether working on my music, art, or writing, such as this blog. Sometimes the ideas just aren't there. 

It's a desert. 
Everything has dried up.
The well has run dry. 
My brain is empty.

Realize that most blocks are imaginary!

We just need to take the time to reset ourselves before we begin again.

But sometimes the blocks are real and very big. This may be a signal to actually stop. Stop what we are doing because it's a dead end and we are wasting our time trying to push ahead.

Sometimes dead ends are real and we have to admit it. Admit that the project/idea is dead and it's time to move on to something new. That's not easy to do, especially if we devoted a lot of time and energy to it: “If I just keep going on, it's bound to pick up again.” Well, not always.

Sometimes dead ends and blocks are just temporary. We need to put something on a shelf until some later time when we are in a different/better situation, and can pick it up again. Dead ends can come back to life after weeks, months, or even years. That's why I always keep files of all the work I've done, even the dead ends/failures, because I can always go to my files to look for ideas when I don't have any. Often old ideas will either trigger something new, or can be reworked into something new.

I've written almost 400(!) blog posts over 3 different blogs in the past 4 years, and it's not always easy to think of something to write about. That's why I keep an idea file of both old and new ideas. When I get blocked on what to write about, I can look through my saved ideas and either find something there, or be inspired to write about something else. My phone is full of idea files that I write down whenever I think of something.

And dead ends are sometimes just that. Dead. Ends. We can take what we learned from them and leave the rest behind, moving on to something new.

So don't let creative blocks get you down. You can get past everything.

~ MB


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