5 Ways to Break Your Creative Block
Updated: Mar 12
We have all been there. No matter how hard we strive, that empty canvas or piece of paper stares blankly at us and nothing can move those creative juices. You don’t have to be an artist, designer or musician to experience this. Business managers and entrepreneurs often face problems that require creative thinking and can struggle to come up with new and innovative ideas.
I sought out solutions from some of the most creative minds throughout history and across disciplines, to try and find out how they experienced and overcame creative blocks in their work. From the normal to the bizarre, I categorised some of their habits and advice and present to you the 5 most common and effective ways to overcome creative blocks.
1. Step Away from Your Work
Put down that pen, leave the office, and get out of your studio! Go for a walk, a coffee, look out the window, do anything but work on your project for a least the next ten minutes.
Julio Cortázar, the Spanish novelist, believed that inspiration came from distractions. Sometimes the simplest solution is to acknowledge when creativity isn’t coming, give it a break, take off the pressure, and allow new ideas to come to you naturally.
Raymond Chandler, an American Novelist, said that his most creative ideas came when he was literally doing nothing. He would not do anything else productive; only allowing himself to look out of the window, or pace his room. His advice to anyone suffering a creative block is to work on your project “or do nothing else”.
2. Clear Your Space
Cluttered room, cluttered mind. Tidying up or rearranging your workspace is a great way to relieve stress and is the perfect mundane task to clear the mind. Cluttered environments can be overwhelming, and lead to distractions that negatively impact your ability to focus. Rearrange your workspace to make it more organised and ascetically pleasing, so you will want to spend more time there.
Cynthia Rowley, the American Fashion Designer always keeps a clean and tidy space when working on creative projects.
“I’ve got a theory: if you love your workspace, you’ll love your work a little more”
3. Keep a Journal or Notebook
Creative inspiration can come when you least expect it. However, it is easy to forget those strokes of genius if you are not in the right place at the right time. Keep a small notebook with you at all times to make a record of thoughts and ideas if they come to you whilst you’re out and about. Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, and even the great Leonardo DaVinci can all credit their success to keeping a journal or notebook nearby to keep track of their thoughts and ideas.
To quote the famous novelist Jack London “Lead pencil markings endure longer than memory”
4. Induce a State of Urgency
If all else fails you can create a sense of urgency by setting yourself a deadline for your task. Some people work better under pressure, and having an open deadline can run the risk of making projects grow too large or complex and new ideas can begin to run out. The key is not to cause too much panic but to set a realistic deadline to induce the creative juices into thinking more abstractly. A brain under a little pressure can conjure up all sorts of new and innovative ideas that will get you out of that creative slump.
Hollywood Actor Robert Downey Jnr actively seeks out high-pressure jobs.
“The higher the stakes, the happier I am, the better I’ll be”
5. Treat Your Block as an Opportunity for Growth
The more you focus on the creative block, the bigger the obstacle the block will become. Instead of looking at the problem as a monster that must be defeated, look at it as a positive challenge that will help you grow in your career. You can use the block to stop and reflect on the nature of your project and ask yourself if it is something you actually want to pursue. Sometimes we get so bogged down with the routine of work, we can forget why it is we are so passionate about it in the first place. Experiencing and working through a creative block pushes us to explore new dimensions of ourselves that we didn’t know existed previously. The real secret is to keep turning up, trying new things and pushing through.
Creative Writer Isabelle Allende found inspiration for her books during her creative blocks.
“Show up, show up, show up and after a while, the muse shows up too”
Lydia Lorraine is a freelance writer and content creator based in the UK. She has published works on the behalf of healthcare providers, retailers and social networking groups. She has a M.A in Research, and examples of her work and contact information can be found at www.lydialorraine.com.