Posts Tagged ‘overcoming creative block’

Another way to beat creative block and make the most of your creative opportunities.

So you have limited time to be creative? But now one of those golden moments comes upon you. What are you going to do with it? Do not let this moment pass.

It’s happened to me a lot, how about you? You finally get some creative time and you’re either blocked creatively or you spend half the time looking for the materials you need to bring your project to fruition. What can you do about it? Well any Boy Scout can tell you, (because it’s their motto) Be Prepared!

Here’s how:
If ideas are your problem, you should be storing them (See chapter 2). You should have a notebook or a computer file full of them ready for when that moment comes. Then you can just grab it and get started. 

Secondly, you’ll need to organize your materials. If you’re blessed to have a studio keep it stocked and organized. A place for everything and everything is in it’s place. If you don;t have a space, keep a box or a bag stocked with your essential tools and materials ready so when the moment is right, you can grab it and get to work. I keep a sketchbook and my laptop nearby at all times so that I at least have the bare minimum, plus my studio is set up and for the most part ready for action. My area of needed improvement is in organization, but even so, for the most part, I can at least start a project at a moment’s notice.

Creativity and inspiration sometimes strike at odd times. You’ve got to be ready.


Another way to overcome creative block.

One of the things I hear creatives say all the time is they just don’t have time to create. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now I will concede that there are times when our schedules are so full or when unexpected things destroy our best laid plans, but for the most part, if we want to badly enough, we can find time to create. Here are a few ideas:

1. Get up an hour earlier and use that time to create.
2. Go to bed and hour later and use that time to create.
3. Identify the time vampires in your life that suck up all your time and give little in return.
4. TV time. Now I do not recommend stealing from your family time. Few thing will make your loved ones resent your work more than being placed behind it, but if all you’re doing is watching TV, why not have a sketchbook or note pad with you to et a little work done while you watch/listen?
5. Make your lunch hour creative hour. 

Of course, these are just a few, there are many more just look for the gaps in your schedule handful some of them with the creative projects that will bring joy to your life and help you accomplish your dreams.

Another way to alleviate creative block…

If you’re going to be a creative, you need a diversion, a hobby something other than what you ordinarily do. I’ll be the first to admit this is difficult to imagine. For many of us, our creative pursuits are the thing we really love to do and especially for those who do something else for a living, your creative pursuits may already be (or feel like) your diversion. You might even be right, but remember our pursuit here is to overcome creative block and you can even get blocked when you’re doing that which you love to do. 

The diversion can help. There are times even in the midst of a great, exhilarating project when you can find yourself stuck. A lot of times it’s just a matter of you’ve been working too intensely for too long and you just need to step away for a little bit. Just take a few minutes and do something else.

My personal diversion is building model kits. Yes it still feels creative and yes may of my professional skills are in play in this hobby as well. The difference is, it’s very structured. There are instructions to be followed and by virtue of the way the kits are assembled. I can add a piece or two and get back to work. It actually works better that way for the hobby because it gives the glue time to cure.

It doesn’t take much most of the time, just a little time away an refresh your creativity and get you ready to delve back in.

Another way to break creative block…

I know this might sound counterproductive, or possibly counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to overcome creative block is to look for trouble. Something tells me I’d better explain. You see, most of creativity is problem solving, so a great way to get your creativity firing is look for a problem to solve.

Maybe something’s broken and needs fixing. Maybe you see someone who needs help or a wrong that needs to be righted. Maybe you just look and something and think there has got to be a better way. Maybe there’s something that is always a general pain to do and you dread it every time you have to do it.

Once you find the problem, the trick is to think outside the box. After all you’re probably not the first person to try to solve the problem. What have the others not done? Remember Albert Einstein’’s famous reminder, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” In other words, if you do what you’ve always done (or whatever everybody else has done), you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Try new angles. Maybe the solution is ultra simple, so don’t overlook the easy way. Don’t get stuck in your own limitations. You don’t have to be able to make it work. Remember we’re just looking for a creativity boost here, so you don’t even have to stay realistic and workable. Let your imagination run wild, the sky’s the limit. Of course, on the other hand, someone in our world will actually solve this problem.

What if it could be you?

An excerpt from my upcoming book on overcoming creative block.

Often the biggest problem that blocks us creatively is not a lack of ideas, we may have a thousand ideas floating around in our creative brains. The problem may be settling in on one. Which one should I do first? It may also be negative self talk. “I’m not good enough to do that;” “I don’t have what it takes;” “I’m lacking some resource;” or maybe just plain “I can’t.” Maybe the nagging “what if’s” have come to call: “What if I can’t do it?” “What if something goes wrong?” “What if I can’t finish?” The list goes on and on and on.

Here’s the thing. I can’t guarantee you success. You may have a raging success or you may fail royally, but I can guarantee failure. You will fail every time if you don’t do one thing—START! So often this is exactly what we do. We get an idea, maybe even a great one, but then the doubts rear their ugly heads and we walk away from it. Don’t do that. To succeed, you have to start. There has never been a success that did not start with a start. I know it sounds obvious, and it is obvious, but I’m convinced that thousands of people take earth shaking ideas to their graves every day because they didn’t have the courage to start.

You say, “But I have all these ideas, what should I choose?” I can’t help you with that. All I can say is pick the one that most appeals to you and start. I know it might be scary. I know you may think you don’t have what it takes to bring it to fruition. Put those fears out of your head and start. You may not have all you need to bring it to fruition right now, but take it as far as you can and see what happens. You may need to bring someone else on board to help you at some point, and it will be much easier to get them on board if you’ve already got something to show, so start.

What if you pick the wrong project? That could happen, but you’ll never know until you start. At the very least you’ll learn what doesn’t work. START. What if people don’t like it? Find the ones who do and sell it to them. What if I get a whole lot of resources into it before it fails? Make your first steps low risk, high reward steps, sketches and drawings cost nothing but time. Start, do what you can and consult people who can tell you what steps or improvements to make.

You’ll never finish, you’ll never succeed if you don’t start.

Well in a few months I will be speaking at a writer’s conference on the topic of overcoming writer’s block. As I started working on the handouts, I discovered that I am probably headed for more of a small book than a handout. I began going through this blog to cull themes for the book. In my ideal world I would like it to be 101 ways to overcome creative block. So far I have fifty and while that may be enough, I’d really like to make 101. Ironically, I am a little stuck. Here’s the list: What am I missing? Yes I know some of them may be a little vague, but I know where I am going… Hey there’s another one “Ask Someone/take a poll”!

  1. Start
  2. Don’t Wait for Inspiration
  3. Ideas are Money
  4. Go Looking for Trouble
  5. Jam
  6. Go for a Walk
  7. Get Away From It
  8. The Second Project
  9. Not Too Many Projects
  10. Have a Diversion
  11. Eliminate Distractions
  12. Find/Make Time
  13. Be Prepared
  14. Have Something With You
  15. Your Workspace
  16. Unleash Your Inner Child
  17. Collaborate
  18. Silence the Inner Critic
  19. Ignore the Outer Critic
  20. Brainstorm
  21. Change Your Medium
  22. Do the Hard Stuff First
  23. Fresh Eyes
  24. Change of Venue
  25. Keep it Simple
  26. Deadlines are Your Friend
  27. Break it Down
  28. Minimize Distractions
  29. Believe You Can
  30. Farm It Out (no one is good at everything)
  31. Look Outside Yourself
  32. Rest
  33. Decompress
  34. Avoid Comparison
  35. Redefine Excellence
  36. Start at the End
  37. Ask Lots of Questions
  38. Make It Better
  39. Do What You Know
  40. Who Do You Know?
  41. Remember When It Was Just Fun
  42. Talk to Someone Outside Your Circle
  43. Change Your “Glasses”
  44. What’s Your Motivation?
  45. Re-Organize
  46. Seek Your Higher Power
  47. Ask Someone/take a poll?
  48. What Will Happen If You Don’t Finish?
  49. Finish
  50. Ship It!
  51. Start Again

Yesterday, I had a post born out of creative block, in the process of writing that one post, another thought began to form. I spoke of starting even if you have no idea and seeing where it goes. I sometimes feel like I can hear the reader saying things back to me as I write, and the voice I heard as I wrote said “But I need an idea. I can’t just start out cold, I need a place to start. I need an idea.” The thing is I believe you already have one.

Oh it might not be a new bolt from the blue kind of idea, but I bet there’s one that’s been rattling around in your head that you’ve discounted for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a project you already started and got stuck or maybe it’s one that you thought of, but for whatever reason you just didn’t think you could make it work. Maybe now is the time to dust that one off and see how far you can take it.

One of the big questions I might ask is are you recording your ideas as you get them. If you’re anything like me, there are times where you get an idea, but you’re so backed up, you know you won’t be able to get to it. Do not just ignore that idea. Ideas have great value to creatives and letting them pass by is kind of like leaving money sit on the ground. Don’t do that. Take a moment and record your idea. Make a notebook or a file on your phone or whatever and keep it up to date. Then in those stuck times, when the ideas just aren’t flowing, go back to your records and see if anything appeals to you. Look for the one that appeals to you most and get started.

The biggest thing, again is to START something. It’s urgent that we finish what we start, but we’ll never finish if we don’t start. You have an idea already. You just need to bring your creativity to it and get to work.