Working Through Creative Blocks

Creative blocks happen for many reasons. Some people may even feel that they are simply not creative people. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” I would be a rich woman! Other people might feel creative for the most part, but are experiencing a period of “stuck.” Creative blocks are a real struggle for all of us at some point in our lives, but they are surmountable!

First lets remind ourselves that all humans are creative. We are creative beings. Our creativity manifests itself in many different ways. There is no one way to be creative! Many people don’t consider themselves creative largely because they have a limited definition of “creativity.” We will start by expanding that idea. The American Phycological Association defines creativity as Creativity as: the ability to produce or develop original work, theories, techniques, or thoughts. No where in the definition does it limit you to making art! So lets list a few ways creativity manifests, remember these are just a few ways and not an exhaustive list. I encourage you to think about ways your creativity manifests in your life, keep adding to the list!

Some Creative Outlets:

  • Art Making
  • Drama
  • Music
  • Writing
  • Cooking
  • Fashion
  • Home Decorating
  • Problem Solving

Still having trouble embracing your inner creativity? Try reading the book “Find Your Unicorn Space,” by Eve Rodsky. This book is a wonderful resource for those struggling with their own creativity. It will help you reframe the way you look at it and its importance in your life!

OK, now that we have worked on our limiting beliefs, and have accepted that yes, we are in fact creative beings, we are ready to move on to working through other creative blocks!

Fear is a common block. Many of us are afraid we will fail, we will embarrass ourselves, people will judge us, we will waste supplies, etc. etc. Fear can keep us frozen in our tracks. It can keep us from ever even trying! Here are a few tips for dealing with fear.

  1. Adopt a beginner’s mindset. We all start as a beginner in anything we do, and a new creative outlet is no different. Just as we would not judge a toddler harshly for falling down as they learn to walk, we should not judge ourselves harshly as we learn a new skill. Give yourself permission to be a beginner…even if it is messy or ugly!
  2. Release Judgement. Now that you have accepted a beginner’s mindset, allow your creativity to unfold however it will. Release the expectation for a particular outcome and allow it to be whatever it is. I you find yourself judging your efforts, simply acknowledge what is happening and then release that judgement. Imagine it floating away on a cloud!
  3. Creative activity is generally a low stakes risk. Realize that most creative activities are not high stakes. No one’s life depends on the outcome of your creative endeavor. I am going to relate this to visual art because that is what I typically do, but please apply this way of thinking to your own chosen creative activity. Potential outcomes from creating art include: The art not turning out how you envisioned, “wasting” paper or other supplies, someone not understanding your work, rejecting it or laughing at it, etc. First off, if your work is not how you envisioned it, revisit step one and two. second, a creative practice is not a waste of resources because the activity has value. Even if the end product is not something you wish to keep. Third, you have the choice if you share your work or not. Do not feel like you have to show others if you are not ready. If you do share and the person rejects your work, it is really more of a commentary on them and where they are in their life. Separate yourself from their reaction. Read more about creative mistakes here.

Other creative blocks I have dealt with & some ideas to combat them.

Reminder, my focus is primarily visual art and journaling so I will be discussing blocks from that perspective. However, I encourage you to think about your own blocks with your creativity and brainstorm a few simple ways to push through them. It can be helpful to have a working list of ideas to try when you are feeling stuck!

Not Inspired

Nature walks are a great way to relax and inspire.

Overwhelmed/No Time

My Highlighter Time Block Method.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my life in general. It can be hard to even find time to be creative. When I feel like this, I start by trying to honor the fact that I may need a break. Taking a pause and allowing yourself to simply be without any expectations on your time can be a wonderful gift to your creativity! If I am still feeling overwhelmed, I turn to my planner. I take a few days and journal how I spend my time. I then go back and highlight my time blocks with a designated color for each time category. (Ex: Orange = Work, Pink = Family Time, etc.) I can clearly see how I spend my time and where there may be some flex time in my daily schedule. This flex time is mine and I can choose how I spend it. Once I have found some time I decide how I want to spend it, I will pencil in my creative time during some of this flex time!

The Blank Page

Playing with a purposeful spill.

It can sometime be hard to get started when you have a crisp white page staring back at you. One trick is to simply “spill” some paint on it. Once it has a mark on it, allow your curiosity to lead the way. Does the spill look like something to you? Can you add other colors, shapes, or lines to it? Another option is to create background pages. These are pages that may be a single color or perhaps a simple pattern or texture that you will go back over at a later time. Background pages are fun to make because it does not matter what they look like! You will eventually layer other art or writing over them. When I make background pages, I often do several at a time.


Scrape painting a background page.

Sometimes I simply feel bored with my usual work. When I feel this way it can be hard to start a new creative project. Play is the best way to combat this type of block. Explore something new! Try a new technique or a new skill. Do you usually paint? Try belly dancing! Be silly and have fun. I love to play with process art when I feel stuck from boredom. You can read more about process art here. Basically tap into your inner child and explore art the way a preschooler might!

I wish you the best of luck dealing with your creative blocks! Remember that we are all creative beings so dealing with a limiting mindset is the first big hurdle. Once you do that then you can implement the tips and tools we discussed to keep yourself creatively engaged. If you have any ideas that have worked for you in the past, I encourage you to share them in the comments. We can all learn from each other.

Published by Art-Breaks presented by J. MacIsaac Studios

Art Breaks are for everyone! They are moments of creativity big or small for infants, kids, and adults. They offer a connection to mindfulness that can enrich your life. A practice in creative mindfulness is perfect for anyone looking to establish a richer connection to themselves. You do not even need to be an artist to explore creative mindfulness practices. We are all born to create.

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