Getting Through Creative Blocks

This month we’ll be talking about “creative funks” also known as creative blocks. 99U lists the following 7 types of creative blocks.  

  1. Mental - where you get trapped by your own thinking. You’re so locked into a familiar way of looking at the world that you fail to see other options.
  2. Emotional - aced with the unknown, you may be scared of what you’ll discover or reveal about yourself.
  3. Work habits that don’t work -  you’re just trying to work in a way that isn’t compatible with your creative process
  4. Personal problems -  it’s hard to concentrate if you’re getting divorced/ dealing with toddlers/battling an addiction/falling out with your best friend/grieving someone special/moving house/locked in a dispute with a neighbor.
  5. Poverty - this is not limited to finances, could be time poor, knowledge poor, poor network, short of equipment
  6. Overwhelm - You’ve taken on too many commitments, you have too many great ideas, or you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming demands and information.
  7. Communication breakdown - sometimes you get blocked by phantoms — merely imagining your work being booed by audiences and mauled by the critics. And sometimes this happens for real and you have to deal with it.

Using this list I can acknowledge that the two blocks I often experience are emotional barriers and work habits that don’t work.  I as of lately I have been feeling as if I’m losing my skills and I anticipate my drawings not turning out how I imagined them to and I would have wasted time trying and failing. I often set myself up mentally to discourage me from even trying. As far as working habits that do not work, between my commute to and from work, actually working  and podcasting, it has been very challenging for me to be as consistent with my art as I would like. I procrastinate a lot. 

I'm currently in a creative block and I’m pushing myself out of it. One of the first things I did to help me to start moving past this was acknowledging my feeling or lack of feelings and call them by name.  This prevents me from lying to myself and helps me to hold myself accountable. Here are 99U’s solutions for each block

  1. Mental - you need to change your mind
  2. Emotional - need to face the worst 
  3. Work habits hay don’t work - take a step back and look at how you’re working and where the pain points are
  4. Personal Problems - Solve the problem or find a way to cope. Maybe taking a short term break. Helpful to treat your work as refuge.
  5. Poverty - Either you save up time/ money or other resources or try to achieve as much as possible with what you have
  6. Overwhelm - time to cut down, start saying "no" put ideas in folder called "back burner", block off down time
  7.  Communication breakdown - beef up your influencing marketing or networking skills.

For the month of October I decided to take part in a 31 day, daily art challenge called #Inktober. All you have to do is post a sketch or drawing everyday and use the hashtag. For the last few years the creator has provided a prompt. Si I've been following that to push myself out of this creative funk. Even if I miss a day I double up and I'm only a few days shy of completing the challenge. Outside of that I was gifted a story prompt book where combining 3 cards you are to make a story based on what they say. For instance card1 " after many failed attempts, card 2 "a tin man" card 3 "buys a bicycle". So using these three things you have to create a story. This has helped me to think creatively as well. I've challenged myself to write at least 2 stories a month from this book. If you're a writer, photographer or just about anything I'm sure there's probably a challenge or "prompt" for you to help get back to where you need to be.

I think between these two exercises I'll be making progress and back into a creative mindset again. I do not put too much pressure on myself by setting really ambitious goals. I'm trying to succeed and I know I'm liable to make falling short feel like a bigger thing than it it. For others maybe instead of a 30/31 day challenge try 3 days, 5 days, 7 then work your way up. You you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone however you have to get comfortable again in your zone, that takes some grace and being kind to yourself.

How do you get through creative blocks? 

Resources

Photography Challenges | Writing Challenges | Art Challenges