6 Tools for Overcoming Creative Blocks
Whether you’re a music producer, graphic designer, artist, writer, or working in a field that banks on creative output, facing blocks during the process of production is natural and, unfortunately, guaranteed to occur at least once during your modus operandi.
Sitting in a fog of negative thoughts can potentially fuel these blocks for longer than necessary. To overcome this period of stagnancy, we’ve compiled a list of tools to help manage your mentality and emerge on the other side with a fresh mind and open outlook.
Take note, though, that everyone is different, and these suggestions do not hold the answer to overcome any one person's prosaic wall. We are all unique in our circumstances, with various life happenings that may or may not influence how we work, our productivity and how we navigate creative obstacles.
But if you are stuck in a rut right now, see for yourself if even one of these tools can help reignite that sought-after spark.
Rather than mentally resisting the block, accept it’s here and a possible sign of creative fatigue. Think of the block as your brain taking a little rest, only to come back stronger than before. Like working out in the gym or nowadays, at home, you need to refuel and rest your body in between hardcore exercise to reap the benefits fully. Accept the block as it might be sticking around for a while. Don't resist it; accept and let it go.
Speaking of exercise, the simple and perhaps most predictable suggestion of taking exercise has valid reasons for being the healer of neuroses. But have you tried 'grounding'? Next time you're out, try this meditative technique; take in the sounds, smells, and sights you encounter as soon as you step outside. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the weight of your arms by your side and your chest rising and falling with every breath. This method can help to dial down those frustrated thoughts and tune into your body and surroundings. Take it one step at a time, and you'll soon notice how even the banalest of grey pavement slabs aren't just grey but awash with hundreds of shades, tones and textures. ‘Grounding’ subconsciously opens your eyes to observe a multitude of activities and environments — the perfect platform for allowing inspiration to strike.
If you’re a music producer in the depths of a creative stunt, sometimes opening up Ableton or Logic can only make matters worse. But occasionally, clicking through samples at a quick-fire pace with your eyes closed can allow you to stumble upon sounds you might have previously overlooked. You could find that rough kickdrum, crunchy snare or untouched hi-hat that you’ve always been looking for, spurring your ear to produce the bones of a full-blown track that could pull you out of the darkness.
While social media is a great way to stay connected with others at the moment, scrolling through Instagram for 20 minutes can feel like your head is being fried by those all-knowing algorithms. If you find yourself edging closer into the vortex of Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, why not explore Youtube instead? You never know what visuals, vocals, or sounds you might encounter that could seep into your cerebral blank canvas and subsequently awaken your creative senses.
If you want to watch that overrated show on Netflix, do it. If you want to indulge in reality TV from 2003, dive in. If you want to listen to a soundtrack from your teens, which you certainly don’t want to be associated with today, whack it on loud. Get it out of your system. We all have our go-to guilty pleasures, which we may not be vocal about, but indulging in this side of your personality might be the key to unearthing that seed of inspiration.
Back to Basics
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Have you left the house yet? Did you drink water today? It’s easy to slip into an upside-down sleeping pattern, eating sporadic meals consisting of a handful of peanuts, not leaving your bedroom and going a whole day without sipping water — especially if you work from home. If you’re feeling tired or erratic from forgetting to stay on top of these basic but essential needs for your body and mind, it’s the perfect playground for a creative block to fester. Try one of the above and you're guaranteed to feel a fraction of the difference with immediate effect.
Take our suggestions with a pinch of salt — EVERYONE is unparalleled, and you might find that none of our ideas scratch the surface of your stubborn block. Either way, remember that these obstructions are normal and won’t last forever. The sooner you acknowledge and accept that you’re in a creative fug though, the sooner it will dissipate.
Written by Niamh O'Connor