So you’re trying to live your best creative life and suddenly things just don’t feel right. You try to push through, but everything you create just feels wrong.
Motivation starts slipping away. You start to question why you’re doing this. “Am I even good at this? Why can’t I figure it out? Why isn’t this working? I should just quit.”
Well, my friend, you have just spiraled into a creative block.
The Good News
The good news is, this feeling isn’t forever! It’s totally normal to feel blocked sometimes. And while that wild spiral that makes you question everything really sucks, rest easy knowing that other many people experience it, too (myself included).
I’ve felt this way often, but there is always a way out of it. I’ve compiled the top seven ways I get unstuck when I’m experiencing a creative block. I know they’ll work for you, too!
1. Do something “mindless”
Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come to you while you’re taking a shower? Or driving to that place that you’ve driven to 1000 times before?
There’s something about doing something familiar that frees up space to let your creative brain wander and dream up new ideas. I don’t know why, but it totally works.
When those ideas finally start flowing, they tend to slip away quickly. To capture them right away I use voice-to-text on my phone to record ideas into a notes app.
Here are a few mindless tasks to busy your brain:
- take a drive
- cook a meal
- go for a walk
- wash dishes
- fold laundry
- pull weeds
- listen to music
- organize your desk
- mow the lawn
- paint a room
2. Let yourself be inspired
Yeah, yeah, I know you’re already trying to be inspired and it’s not working. But just hear me out.
Inspiration can’t be forced. To really feel inspired you have to relax a little bit, stop focusing so hard on your end goal and just be present.
Have you ever traveled to a new city and been completely in awe of the architecture? Or taken a walk through the woods and found yourself amazed at how all of these plants and creatures work together to create a beautiful environment? Or spent a morning on the beach and felt so grateful to be able experience the sounds of the waves and the refreshing ocean air?
Those moments were inspiring because you were fully present! You weren’t thinking about what you could get out the experience. You were just there, living.
If you want to feel inspired, you have to let it happen.
Try talking a walk and just being present in the moment. Don’t look at your phone or listen to music, just be with yourself and your surroundings for a little bit. Try this even if you live somewhere that you think is totally uninspiring and you might be surprised at what you notice when you’re focusing on the present.
Then take that inspiration back to your project. Use your new perspective to tackle your project with a fresh set of eyes.
3. Do something that makes you feel confident
When I’m in a creative block it can make me feel completely unmotivated. I’m stuck thinking that I’m not great at anything and my confidence takes a huge hit. Feeling bummed out like this isn’t a great place to create from.
So, instead of focusing on the things that aren’t working, it’s a great confidence booster to shift gears and do something that you know you’re good at. Doing something that makes you feel confident will give you some positive energy so that you can come back to your project re-energized and with the confidence to try something new.
4. Figure out your purpose
If you’re in the middle of a project and suddenly stuck, it’s a good idea to step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I creating this?
- What message am I trying to send?
- What is my end goal for this project?
Use the answers to these questions to guide your creative decisions.
5. Make a detailed step-by-step to do list
From time to time you may be working on a creative project that has a due date. Suddenly feeling blocked when the clock is ticking can add a lot of stress to your process and make you feel totally overwhelmed.
When this happens, I recommend grabbing a pen and writing down all of the little steps you need to take to get to the final product. Breaking down a big project into little steps lets you focus on one task at a time. Instead of being overwhelmed by all you have to complete, you can focus on checking off the small tasks on your list. And your big creative decisions, get broken down into small, manageable steps.
6. Just start
Sometimes that block you’re feeling is really just the fear of doing it wrong. And we all do it wrong sometimes! In fact, we all do it wrong a lot of times before we finally do it right. When it’s the fear of failure that’s blocking you, the best thing to do is just to start.
What you’re creating might totally suck in the beginning, but that’s okay! You can build off of that sucky project. Pick out the elements that aren’t working. Try something new. Try again. And again. And pretty soon you’re creating something you love.
If you’re having trouble starting, a method that is often recommended is to set a timer. Set it for 10 minutes and commit to working on your project without distractions until the timer goes off. Oftentimes you’ll get enough momentum going that by the time the timer goes off you’re already in the zone and ready to continue working.
7. Do something different
Finally, if you just really can’t make it happen, it might be time to stop trying to make it happen.
When a project REALLY isn’t working me no matter what I try, I find it’s best to just move on to something new. If what I’m working on no longer inspires me and I can’t seem to get back into the groove of creating it, I just pack it up and come back at a later time when it feels right. Sometimes that’s a couple hours, a couple days or even months.
I find if I put too much pressure on myself to make things work when they clearly aren’t working, it totally overwhelms me and I lose my ability to be creative. I’ve learned to be flexible with my creativity. If I’m writing something that I just can’t get to work, I’ll put it aside and focus on sewing or woodworking or another hobby. And vice versa.
Go Be Creative!
Creative blocks are a part of the creative process for many people. It’s totally normal to feel stuck from time to time, but that feeling isn’t forever! When you’re feeling blocked take a moment to step away from your project and try one of the tips above. You’ll be back on track with your project before you know it!
I want to hear from you!
Do you have any tips for getting past a creative block? What do you do when you’re feeling stuck and uninspired?