Creative block. Ah. It hits us all at one time or another. Usually when you least want it to, you know, in the middle of a massive project with an imminent deadline. Sometimes it can last only a couple of hours, other times you can go weeks without having a new idea. It. Sucks.
I had a serious case of it earlier this year, after the rush of Christmas and the constant factory-style making of jewellery, I was worn out. Any thought of actually creating something new was met with a big, huge, sighing “Meh” from my brain.
I’ve been “making stuff” long enough to learn a few tricks for pulling myself out of this creative rut, though, and here’s what I do:
1/ Get messy
I work on the computer most of the time so it’s always refreshing to work with actual, tangible materials. Clay, watercolours, fabric, paper, it’s all good! This year I’ve been playing around with watercolours a lot more, which is one of the reasons I chose them for my #the100dayproject. Crack out those Conté Crayons that you bought back in art school, grab some paper, and get drawing. Not sure what to draw? read on…
2/ Make marks
Mark making is a wonderful exercise for the exhausted creative brain. Grab your material of choice (paints, charcoal, pencil, micron) and make some marks. Make patterns. Doodle. Just get something down on paper. You can’t go wrong here, which is one of the biggest blocks of creativity (“But what if it looks shit?”), there’s no right or wrong, you’re just… making marks. No one expects you to make a masterpiece here, it’s all about freeing up your creative lockdown.
I always find that evocative music always gets the creative juices flowing. For me, that’s usually stuff about mountains, journeys, and fiction. Bands that I always turn to include Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Coheed and Cambria, and (more recently) Of Monsters and Men. But hey, even the Beach Boys with their immersive world of California could do it!
4/ Take a hike
I don’t mean just walk to the shops. I mean get out into nature, on a real hike (or nicely preserved public footpath), where there’s open sky, no distractions and a lot of time for thinking. If you can, try and leave your phone at home and take a notebook instead. Jot down any ideas that come to mind, and I mean anything. The fresh air, exercise and overall goodness of being outside is the best panacea for the stalled creative.
5/ Work through it
Still struggling? Work through it. You just have to keep making stuff. Even if it’s shit, you must carry on. For every 100 rubbish ideas and pieces of work, there’ll be one perfect rough diamond that just needs a little more attention. The most important thing you can do it to keep on making.
Extra ideas: dance break, read fiction, watch a classic film, do your taxes*, attend a conference or workshop, PINTEREST BINGE.
And don’t forget, when you’ve beaten the block then buy yourself a fucking donut – you’ve earned it!
*clinically proven to induce procrastinatory creative ideas
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