Your deadline is coming up and you haven’t even started yet. You feel nervous, anxious, and maybe even a little bit defeated already. You’re starting to wonder if you’ll ever finish the project and if you’re even in the right career.
When you suffer from a creative block, it can feel like everything is stacked against you. But there is good news: you’re not alone. Many professionals (and beginners) in creative fields have suffered, and eventually broken through, creative blocks.
It’s important to be productive, but it’s also essential that you stay true to yourself as a creative. We’ve gathered five tips that have helped others break through creative blocks while maintaining their authenticity, and we hope these tips will help you, too!
Fix Your Space
You might already have office space, whether it’s at home, in a coworking building, or at a company office. No matter where your workspace is, take a look at your desk. Do you have all the supplies you need? Do you have the space to sketch or write when you do get that flash of inspiration?
If your desk is overloaded with papers, you’ll need to clear them off first. You can even stack them on the floor if you need to; just get them out of the way of your creation space.
If your walls are lackluster and bare, consider hanging prints, paintings, or photographs that inspire you. On the other hand, if you find visuals distracting, keep your walls empty.
To break through a creative block, you need to take stock of your environment. What’s bothering you? What’s distracting you? Find out and fix your space issues before you move on.
Set Your Schedule
Having a schedule is critically important. Research has proven that routines are necessary for success. Your brain knows that “this is creating time” if you sit down in the same spot at the same time every day.
Your brain is prepared to help you get in the right mindset and avoid distractions. When you don’t have a schedule, you have to force your brain into that mindset every single time you need to work.
If you need to break through a creative block, take a good look at your schedule.
Do you have one? Do you dedicate mornings to research and afternoons to writing, for example? Or mornings to sketching and afternoons to fine tuning? Do you have a plan or a process for how to approach projects, such as brainstorm, sketch, revise?
Write down a schedule for yourself and stick to it. You should also look at your big-picture schedule closely. If you have lots of projects due around the same time, you’ll need to set aside time each day to work on different projects. Think about when you work best and what will conflict with your personal life, and then, design your schedule.
But Be Flexible, Too
On the other hand, if you become too attached to your schedule, you might end up making your creative block even worse. Sometimes people might “go through the motions” of sitting down at the same spot and opening the same programs on their computer without actually putting any thought or heart behind their actions.
If this is the case, consider taking a break. You can take a quick 10 minute walk outside. Watching a 10 minute YouTube video about relaxation or meditation might help you as well. If it’s later in the day and you think it could help, consider taking a quick 20 minute cat nap.
Flexibility is important. When you’re stuck in a rut, take a break from what you do every other day and see if it helps!
Try Different Exercises
If you have a good space and schedule, and you’re also being flexible, but you’re still not making progress with your project, then you should look at different exercises.
We’re not necessarily talking about physical exercises (although physical exercise can definitely help you with a mental reset, too!). We mean exercises for your brain that can help you look at a problem from a new perspective.
For example, you can do a word association exercise when you look at a list and write down the first word you think of for each item on the list. You can open the calendar and put your finger on a specific day, then try to write down all your memories from that day. You can challenge yourself to draw something that you’ve always hated drawing before.
You can find many other mental exercises online to try out if you think that none of those will work for you. No matter what exercise you try, it should help you come to your work with a fresh set of eyes and a different attitude.
Motivate Yourself With Small Rewards
At the end of the day, work is all about reward. If you meet your goals, you’ll be rewarded with income by your client. But sometimes, you have to reward yourself to break through a creative block.
Tell yourself that as soon as you finish the first draft, then you can take yourself out for a latte. Then act on that promise. Or, tell yourself that when you finish your sketch of the logo design, you can spend 20 minutes texting friends or playing games.
Give yourself little rewards along the way for making progress, no matter how small that progress might be. Remind yourself that each step you take will help you get the big reward at the end!
Wrapping It Up…
When you fix your space, set a schedule, embrace flexibility, try different exercises, and motivate yourself with small rewards, you’ll find yourself on the way to breaking through creative block. Keep your eye on the prize, but also take time for yourself. You’ll need to balance what you’re capable of with what your client needs. At the end of the day, breaking through creative block means doing what’s best for you.