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5 tips to overcome creative blocks

Why do we have these blocks, these periods of time where the innovative and intriguing thoughts just stop flowing? Is it because of star alignments, the season, because it’s Wednesday?

All blocks are hard to deal with, whether it is related to creativity or a life. Struggling past them is a reoccurring test that life just loves to dump on us at random. Now I’m not one for cheat sheets, I failed my fair share of tests in school with flying colors all on my own. Lol. But for this instance, having a cheat sheet or {guide} to getting past a creative block may be helpful in one's journey to being a better artist/creative/productive adult. And let's be honest: If you’re trying to be a full time artist/creative/productive adult, being stuck really isn’t an option. So the better the guide, the easier you can get back to creating.

1.) Have a creative space.

Artist Studio

My dad was very big on doing homework at the kitchen table when I was younger. Me being my sometimes rebellious, free spirit self, I preferred to take a hard back book and lounge across the living room floor. He could never understand why I would rather create my work space on the carpet instead of sitting at the sturdy table. To be quite honest, neither could I. I just knew I liked it there. Fast forward 10 plus years, and I still work on the floor of my studio.What I've come to realize is, the floor is essential to my creative space. I need to be able to spread out, make a mess, and be close to my work.

Having a designated place where you feel at ease and unwind is crucial for art making. Whether this space is in your home or at a rented art studio, you need free range to unleash your creative beast. Music is another element that adds to my creative space. I have specific artists and playlists just for painting. Fill the walls with photos,quotes, and images to keep your thoughts moving. Add pillows and seating to lounge. Just as business professionals have offices to work, creatives needs some place of "business" to work in.

**And creative spaces are not limited to being inside. Pack your things up and go to a park, sit on the beach or by a water fountain. Take a sketchbook along on a hike. Shake it up.**

2.) Up/decrease your work load.

One of the skills I picked up from college is working on multiple projects at once. I used to make art on my own time, accustomed to working on one piece until it was complete. I did this for about two years. Then when I transferred colleges and picked up an art minor, my pace picked up drastically. I had to create 3-5 pieces within a month, sometimes in two weeks. This required a lot from me, rotating between pieces and styles, but it made for better art in the long run.

Working on multiple pieces at once keeps you on your feet. One piece may come together faster than another; one may call for more detail and patience. If you get stuck, you just work on something else. Work on it for a bit until that's no longer inspiring, and then repeat. You get to piggy back off of your own creations, which

A) Strengthens your overall body of work/skill level.

B) You have more work in the same time frame.

However, if you're working with a deadline, sometimes working smaller can help ease the stress from the block. If you're having trouble focusing on larger works, maybe switch to a sketch instead. If you write, instead of a novel, work on 1-3 paragraph short stories until you build back your stamina for the longer work. Sometimes we get so ambitious we stretch ourselves too thin. Regroup and go forth with a more targeted focus. Make a to-do list of high priority works and start there, little by little, day by day.


On my phone I have a folder called "Art stuff". In the folder is a collection of scenic photography, multiple images of my muses, color pallets, and inspirational quotes. These things are my sources of inspiration. In my times of being stuck, I look at the collection of images and try to see if there's anything that will spark some magic.

Another source of inspiration for me, in general is life itself. I love local festivals, being around different groups of people, finding a new book to read, traveling. These are the things that I pull from to create my art. Instagram (shameless plug) is a helpful tool that I use to get inspired. I follow a lot of photographers, models, and artists that I admire. The constant flow of vibrant images often sparks ideas, whether they can be used now or later, as paintings or as simple sketches.

Multiple sources to pull from also adds to your ever growing perspective (because you should be growing as a person and as a creative. Always). Be aware of what makes you tick and lights you up inside, and find ways to blend that into your work.


Art icebreakers follow the general concept of conversation ice breakers. They are there to cut the tension and to open you up. Art icebreakers are simple things to do to start the creative process. A sketch or doodle of the day, a quick figure study, recreating an image from a book or magazine. The goal is to create freely, without the pressure of a deadline or the work looking even remotely cohesive to your typical work.

Sometimes as artists we get too stuck in our heads and try to control the entire process. Doing these icebreakers takes the pressure off and let's you get back to creating organically, just for the fun of it. This is what many of us started out doing, drawing and painting just because.


I don't know where that phrase about sleeping when you're dead came from. I think it's dumb. You need sleep (at least I do. I get cranky without sleep.) You need time to rest and recharge those lovely, artsy thoughts. Burning out is real and it sucks.

There's nothing more frustrating than picking up a new canvas, setting up, ready to go, and absolutely nothing of quality comes from your efforts. When it's not clicking and the magic isn't flowing like you need it to, just put everything down, and walk away.

There's this concept I learned in Econ years ago called:

"The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility". Basically, people have limits for how long something is enjoyable. Things are fun at first, until you reach the level when "fun" turns into "boring", "this is great!" turns into "this @%# sucks".

So if the above suggestions don't help, take a nap (or go to bed) and simply try again when you're refreshed.

Continuing to force yourself to create when your heart and mind isn't in it, is a disservice to the creative process. You may not always love a piece at first, there may be other things on your mind than your new masterpiece, you may be on a time crunch, but this is YOUR art. The last thing you want to do is create things that you don't like or you are not proud of.

Share how you move past creative blocks below.


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