A person holding their head with their hands against a multi-coloured background.

20 Tips to Help You Overcome Creative Block

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12/08/19
LinkedIn

Creative block. Writer’s block. Memory blip. Call it what you like, almost every creative has experienced it. Creativity can be affected by a variety of factors. We get it… The productive process is hard.

Here at Use.Space, we believe the rate of creativity and productivity is heavily influenced by the environment in which people work. With the right atmosphere, collaborations and ideas transform into great projects. Creativity is an important skill to possess and one that takes time and dedication to finetune into great content.

‘Creativity is the most important skill in the world’
Linked Learning, 2019

However, with creativity comes a lot of time, effort and planning. Often creative individuals find themselves inconvenienced by a pesky case of creative block, in which they are unable to move past to exercise their true visionary potential.

What is creative block?

Creative block is the process of hitting a mental wall in which a person experiences a creative slowdown, unable to generate new ideas. This can be frustrating especially battling deadlines against mental blocks that won’t subside in your time of need. 

Common factors leading to the dreaded creative block is often a combination of timing, anxiety and perfectionism. From the pressure to make your work perfect, to the anxiety of the finished product not turning out quite how expected, creative thinking is a long and subjective process. 

Various techniques are available to help you combat the enigmatic issue that is ‘creative block’. Solutions range from methods of quiet relaxation to actively encouraging individuals to break out of the office.

Discover our tips for helping you to overcome a creative block and unleash your true creative potential. 

1.Surround yourself in a productive environment

Does your office motivate you at all? Studies have shown that the physical design of an office can positively affect employees and make them 33% happier at work. This then leads to a 31% increase in productivity.

This proves that we’re not only influenced by the people we’re surrounded by, but the place we work in. So whether it be a poster on a fridge, or an intricately detailed mural splashed across a wall (check out our latest art project here), look around you. 

2. Write a list

Take the time to note down a few key words related to your desired theme. Think of them as hints, a future reference to read over in preparation for the risk of being hit by creative block.

Whether expressed through a mind map, bullet points or scribbled randomly on a piece of scrap paper, get your initial thoughts down on the page as a release of all your ideas in written and recorded form.

No ideas are bad ideas. Creativity has no rules.

3. Leave and then come back

It’s tempting to give up and walk away in frustration, but why not take a tactical break from racking your brain? Take some time out.

 A build-up of stress and pressure, although effective for some, can often leave you feeling more overwhelmed and defeated rather than driven and determined. Escaping the confines of your desk can make you feel freer, relaxed and most importantly… creative.

4. Take a walk

As hard as it may be to tear yourself away from your desk when attempting to force out the words and get the job done, a peaceful walk in the fresh air or surrounding areas may be just the thing to get you feeling inspired again.

What may sound like a cliché has actually been scientifically proven to help refresh the mind as Stanford University researchers concluded that walking had a positive increase as participants experienced a 60% increase during cognitive tests. 

Walking not only encourages physical activity, but also aids in the free flow of thoughts and ideas.

5. Speak to others

Use others to your advantage- and not in the way you’re thinking of. Brainstorming is a highly successful form of generating new ideas and helpful information. When several creative minds come together and collaborate on a common theme, this can motivate you to expand on suggested ideas and even query others on their opinions and advice.

6. Sleep on it

With tiring hard work comes the need to rest and recover. Self-care is an important part of any creative’s routine as nurturing the mind and body go hand in hand. 

A task that may seem impossible the day before, could appear easily fixable the next morning after a solid night’s sleep and several hours break. Wake up and take a new, fresh approach to the day. 

Perhaps a glossy vision could appear in the form of a dream providing you with a eureka moment on how to solve all your problems? In this case, immediately write down any thoughts upon awakening and revise notes in the morning.

7. Go easy on yourself

‘Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines’
– Robert H. Schuller

The creative process takes time, so don’t expect the first draft to be the perfect finished product. You are aware of your own talents and abilities and it’s important to remember this fact when you do find yourself struggling creatively. 

Take a breath. Reaffirm yourself of the skills you are capable of and remember that you can create amazing work.

8. Read a book

Books. They provide the opportunity for escapism and adventure as well as distraction from something other than your current work. Find a peaceful space and take some quiet time to yourself to relax into the fantastical world of the written narrative. 

Why not split the time between achieving a certain milestone of work and then rewarding your hard work with a few pages or chapters of your favourite book? It’s all about that give and take.

Find inspiration from published pieces related to your topic and browse the minds of other writers and authors alike. 

9. Watch the sun set

A popular background for inspirational Instagram quotes, the stereotypical setting of a sunset is popular for a reason. It provides picturesque scenery to take a personal moment of reflection as you watch day transitioning to night.

Be it a way to escape the stresses of daily life or a change in routine for a busy worker, the sunset is the perfect setting to relax and revise back on a hard day’s work. 

10. Don’t force it

If you feel you aren’t making any progress, then it’s important to admit defeat on some occasions to then come back stronger and more determined in the future. Being kind to yourself and accepting of different thought patterns is key when faced with the issue of a creative block.

Mistakes are not a negative thing, and neither is a lack of creativity. You may be unfamiliar with the topic you are working on or out of ideas from repeatedly recycling pieces on the same topic. Imagination can only stretch so far so don’t place to much guilt on yourself for not being able to take a subject any further.

11. Keep a notebook

How often have you been instructed to always keep a pen and paper handy? In the case of spontaneous genius or sudden realisation of an idea, a handy notebook is crucial for recording details and thoughts.

It could even be a positive exercise to look back on old notes jotted down for new inspiration or a reminder from an old topic once dissected.

Feel free to get visual and swap your trusty writing pen for a sketching pencil as you express your ideas in picture form. Just as every student has different techniques and preferences for revision, creatives differ in their approaches to planning as well.

12. Get physical

Kinetic learning and active movement have long been praised as a successful and effective learning style whilst trying to generate creativity and energy. Running, partaking in sports or even pacing laps of the office, will get your blood and creative juices flowing.

Being glued to a chair all day, whether it has wheels or not, creates a static energy that will only further suffocate your creative thinking. Get up. Get moving. Get creative.

13. Break it down

‘Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together’
-Vincent Van Gogh

What may at first seem like a daunting and lengthy task, can soon be transformed into an easy subject to tackle by breaking down work into more manageable chunks.

The process of ordering work can be therapeutic as tasks become smaller and simpler to complete.

A wooden sand timer with blue sand on a table top

14. Set a deadline

Create some urgency in your work. Putting some pressure on yourself to get the job done may provide you with motivation and drive that you need as an end for the task is in sight. The freedom of time is a dangerous luxury as you can easily become excitable and overindulge in extravagant ideas. However, this soon becomes daunting when faced the reality of acting on those plans. 

By constructing a deadline target for yourself, you limit the places in which you can take your work resulting in a more achievable and focused end result. 

Challenge yourself to be decisive and cutthroat with your work by cancelling out any spare time to edit or alter pieces. Focused work is successful work.

15. Express yourself

Confide your worries in the colleagues around you. If they are unable to help you creatively then at the very least, they are an ear to vent to. From speaking aloud, you may even find that you are able to solve your own predicament. 

Talking openly and audibly allows for a different method of thinking and can be a successful form of talking through any problems. 

16. Take inspiration from others

Creativity is all about sharing opinions and expressing ideas. If you find yourself struggling to reach any innovative ideas of your own, take a dive into the imagination of others. Explore the resources available to you and look at what other people are doing. Could you add anything to this? Have they missed anything out? Now is your opportunity to fill that gap.

Listening to the opinions of someone other than your own thoughts is a really helpful exercise where recommendations and anecdotes can set alight new ideas in your own conscious.

17. Change things up

Although contradictory, starting a completely new and unrelated topic forces you to leave your previously hindering creative block and refreshes your palate.

Turning your attention to a different topic instantly cures you of your creative block as you disassociate yourself from your previous problem. 

A person facing a window with headphones on listening to music

18. Cue the music

Music can do many things for a person. From tuning out unwanted noise to placing the individual in the space that they are writing about, music is transformative. 

Plug in some headphones, crank up the volume and power through the creative block!

19. Disconnect

Does the thought of cutting off online access fill you with dread? 

Switch off your phone. Log out of Facebook. Set your email to out of office. 

Technology is one of the biggest distractions out there. With endless hours’ worth of content, images and videos it’s difficult to disconnect with it all. And although it can be a great source of research and inspiration, sometimes the effort of going offline can truly allow you to gain back your focus and get out of your creative funk.

20. Don’t doubt yourself

‘Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way’
– Edward de Bono

Creativity is all about breaking normal conventions and expectations in order to explore and express new ideas. Even when stuck in a temporary rut, don’t forget your past achievements and accomplishments that have been realised as a result of your creative talents.

Head over to the Use.Space website now to check out our creative spaces available today!

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