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What to Do When You Have Creative Block

  • Creativity happens best when the brain is calm, focused, and motivated.
  • Stress and anxiety can harm creative flow, so be sure to take care of your mental and physical needs.
  • The best way to stimulate creativity is to engage in reflective, rewarding activities.

As a creative person, you’ve probably enjoyed the state of flow where ideas come easily and time stands still. That delightful feeling comes when the Muse is speaking to you. So what do you do when she’s silent?

Creative block can be very frustrating, and it always seems to happen when you’re under deadline! You know your inspiration will return eventually, but it feels awful to not be able to create. Don’t worry: here are 5 easy ways to quickly get inspired and creative again!

Consume Other People’s Creative Work

One of the main causes of creative block is burnout. After we expend a lot of mental energy, we get drained. It takes time to fill up our creative juices and get them flowing again. If you don’t want to wait, spend some time with a good book, movie, comic, painting, or any other work that you enjoy. You’ll likely feel inspired again before you know it!

This trick works because consuming art stimulates your brain’s endorphins, which feed into your motivation system. Plus, taking a moment to reflect is crucial to your productivity, and what better way to reflect than to shift your mind to someone else’s work? Fill up your cup with great art, then revisit your own projects.

Do A Brain Dump

Creative flow only happens after you enter a focused state. You need to clear your mind and surroundings of distractions. When that happens, your brain can fully embrace your project.

The flip side is that when your mind is occupied with other tasks, it can be near impossible to focus on one thing, let alone achieve flow. For many creative people, lingering to dos and ideas can become intrusive. That means if you’re feeling overwhelmed , it’s much harder to immerse yourself in your work.

The solution? Do a brain dump. You don’t even have to organize it. Just get your random tasks, ideas, and worries out of your head and onto paper. Trust that you will get to them later, and return your attention to your creative work.

Map It Out

Part of being creative is letting your ideas run wild, turning your daydreams into well crafted work. However, if you’re running dry, it can help immensely to get academic about it. A bit of structure can help you identify gaps, achieve clarity, and feel more in control of your creation.

If you’re struggling to write, make an outline of your project or jot down some quick ideas. If your design doesn’t seem to be progressing, try shifting modes (e.g. sketching on paper instead of using your computer) and mapping out your next steps. By taking a moment to get organized, you can rediscover your motivation for the project.

Use A Different Creative Skill

Often, the stress you feel about a given project can cause a creative block. To overcome your anxieties and keep those creative juices flowing, do something artsy that isn’t “work.” This tactic can help you relax and recharge, which is crucial to your productivity!

The creative activity you choose can be virtually anything. Tend to your garden, use an adult coloring book, cook something delicious, etc. The key is to give yourself a chance to express your creativity without feeling pressure to be perfect.

Chill Out For A Moment

Sometimes, disengaging from any sort of work is the best way to rejuvenate your creativity. Take a break from your desk. Go for a walk, take a shower, pet your dog or cat, or simply sit and meditate. A quiet moment gives your brain a chance to recover.

During these relaxing activities, your brain enters a “zen” state. Alpha waves start to dominate, rather than the arousing beta waves or highly intensive gamma waves. You’ll immediately feel less stressed, and many people find that they achieve greater clarity. Think about “shower thoughts,” in which you solve a problem or come up with something witty. Those are the moments where your brain can recharge and reclaim your creativity.

Wrapping Up

Ultimately, the best thing you can do when you experience creative block is to walk away from your project for a moment. Give your brain a moment to recover, and use this time to read or watch something inspiring, or indulge in an enjoyable, relaxing activity. If you must continue working, shift gears for a moment to help yourself reset your mind. And remember, go easy on yourself. Your creative brain needs to be healthy to do its best work!


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