Creative blocks are common, but experiencing them can feel strangely uncommon and eerily isolating. You might sometimes believe that your favourite artists have an endless supply of ideas which they run to whenever a creative block threatens to emerge. It can be easy to beat yourself up for not having a similar backup. You might worry that you're just not fit to be an artist or that you're looking in all the wrong places. No matter what kind of doubts visit you, there are ways to deal with them without ruining your motivation.
Please remember that some of the sections in this article, like certain study methods, may not seem effective or appealing to you. Allow all of these points to guide you in the direction that feels most appropriate for you. There's no right or wrong way to do anything in the creative world. Ultimately, remaining open to all kinds of information is what will lead you out of your artistic slump. 🙂
Without further delay, here are four simple yet effective ways you can get over your creative block!
Your New Mantra: “It's a Temporary Phase”
Treat your inspiration like a garden. There will inevitably be times of drought when your plants will struggle or wilt. These phases of abundance and dryness are often determined by external factors which we can't fully control. However, we have a certain amount of control that can shorten or enhance specific periods of time. Think of the last time you felt a little down because of a small mishap. How quickly did the layer of gloom fade away? Would forcing yourself to be happy help during that time? Personally, small failures compel me to spend time in my sadness without exposing myself to cheerful content. Even though the disappointment might seem endless, a part of me knows (from experience) that it'll go away. Pressuring myself to be cheerful usually dampens my mood even more. What encourages me is the knowledge that this is a cycle. A lack of creativity, like a bad mood, won't last forever. Remember that no matter how uninspiring you feel, you're still an artist with a great mind who's capable of making the most amazing content.
Absorb Inspiration From Different Genres
From time to time, it greatly helps to take a step back and surround yourself with new environments. It's almost like taking a vacation and familiarizing yourself with new cultures, climates, and people. You'll return to your work feeling like a new person thanks to the sheer amount of mind-opening information you absorbed. Fortunately, taking a vacation like this is possible without travelling far (though that, too, is always a joy). Your road to newness may exist in magazines, in documentaries, in your local bookstore, or simply online.
What inspires me most during times of creative dullness are photography genres I'm not too familiar with. (I often find myself reading articles and interviews featuring artists who aren't even photographers!) For example, I've never really tried out landscape photography. Even though I'm a portrait photographer, I find the most unexpected inspiration in extravagant landscape shots. This inspiration includes, but is not limited to:
- Color correcting techniques
Don't feel that you must be inspired in a specific way right now. As mentioned in the previous point, embrace this temporary phase. Take a break from it by simply absorbing different types of knowledge and genres. You'll leave the phase feeling like an enlightened and happy tourist who's finally home.
Start a Project That Requires Little Commitment
If not working on anything creative makes you feel lazy, start a small project. This might involve taking photos every day for a week or dedicating a single day to experimenting with a new genre. For instance, though I've worked on 365 projects before (taking photos daily for a year) I didn't feel I was in the right mindset to commit to something so tremendous. Knowing this, I started a 31-day project in July to sharpen my observation skills and to weaken my creative fears. There are days when I feel less motivated, but my persistence teaches me new things even when I feel slightly uninspired. I've learned more than I expected to this month alone. Knowing yourself and your current state of mind, create a personalized challenge which will allow you to make art in a comfortable environment. The results might teach you new things, inspire you, or simply push you to embrace your own unique pace.
Forget Your Level of Experience and Become a Student
Individuals with growth mindsets believe that they can develop in all kinds of ways as long as they learn, persist, and practice. These people understand both their strengths and their weaknesses and acknowledge the importance of being a lifelong student. Even if they're masters of their craft, they strive to understand subjects and ideas that are unknown to them. By doing this, they develop physically, emotionally, creatively, and the list goes on. Basically, they have no limits when it comes to healthy personal growth.
This is something worth learning from. It helps to both be aware of your accomplishments and be interested in new ways of working. There's no age or experience limit when it comes to knowledge. Whoever you are and wherever you are, know that you have every right to learn valuable things which will nourish and refresh you. There are all kinds of helpful communities online, LightStalking being one of them.
Again, remember that there are different ways to study; what works perfectly for you might not work for someone else, and vice versa. Thankfully, the Internet offers an impressive amount of free content that appeals to a variety of learners, from detailed how-to articles to online workshops. Take a class that sparks your interest and see where it leads you. You might end up discovering a new interest, enhancing your current skills, or simply becoming a strong learner. As you do these things, your creative block will slowly crumble, leaving you with a fresh new you.
A (Very) Short Summary
Do one (or all) of these things to conquer your creative block:
- Acknowledge its temporary nature
- Get to know different genres
- Start a small project
- Become a student