Creative block, writer’s block, designer’s block – these nasty mental barriers are way too common in our work life as creatives and often hinder us from completing a project with the peace of mind we desire. If you’ve been a creative professional for many years, you will have encountered some form of a creative block at some point in your career. It is unfortunately way too common.
If you’re looking for some quick tricks to overcome your creative block, look no further; here’s 5 ways to kickstart your creativity and get your creative juices flowing again.
1. Go for a walk
This is the most unoriginal piece of advice you could receive, but I personally found it really does help. Grab your coat and go for a walk, especially if you’re living in a place that is not your hometown. I lost count of how many ideas I found while going for a walk. You may see an advertisement on the street, a beautiful encounter between two lovers, a conflict at the till just before you pay – anything can trigger your storytelling skills and get you some ideas.
Going for a walk also enables you to detach from technology for a while. If you’re suffering from creative block, chances are you need to step away from that computer, unplug, take a break and simply put your mind somewhere else for a bit. Wandering around town is the simplest source of inspiration – so use it!
Image credit: Dennis Otieno
2. Break down your project into segments
If you’re into project management and you like being organised (as a freelancer, I assume you do!), there are a few tricks you can adopt to help you forge ahead and destroy that nasty creative block. The first and easiest of these tricks is breaking up your project into manageable segments. Force yourself to stick to a timeline and come up with milestones you need to achieve by a certain time. Give yourself some structure and break your project into multiple tasks, but make sure to make them achievable to avoid being overwhelmed.
One good way to come up with reasonable tasks is by following the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based). This framework is a mnemonic acronym well known in the realm of productivity, and it helps when having to manage a complex creative project.
Of course you need the right mindset to make this approach work for you. Try to worry less about the deadline and more about the deliverables; force yourself to forge ahead and get started on a minor part of the wider project, but without procrastinating. Spend some time setting up the timeline of your project, then leave the organisational stuff alone and get creating. Once you get started, the toughest bit is done.
Just make sure to let go of your perfectionism while you do it. There comes a time when you must stop trying to make your project perfect. If you worry about that too much, your creative block is only going to get worse.
Image credit: Andres Lanza
3. Make changes around you
Sprucing up the place and opting for a change of environment can do wonders for you. If you’re working from a home office, change it up. Buy a new chair, change the configuration of your desk, buy some plants to bring some colour in the room. Maybe buy a poster.
This is more than simple shopping therapy – it’s a way to inject a sense of novelty in your work environment and break the monotony of your work. Even something as small as a succulent can do wonders for your mental health, helping you get inspired with simply a new element in your office. Your mind will feel more relaxed, the sense of novelty will inspire you – and you will be off to doing something you’re proud of once again.
This mindset applies to your overall work as well. If you find that you’re growing tired of receiving and doing the same projects over and over, try to find some new opportunities. Look for different projects, try a new niche you never thought you’d enjoy before. It will stimulate your innate desire for learning something new, and it will help you get creative again in the process.
4. Find inspirational content
There are tons of mind-blowing sources of inspirational content out there, and most stand literally one Google search away. I’m not a huge fan of audiobooks, but I heard they can do wonders to get your creativity going. Listen to some podcasts, on creativity or otherwise; RPG actual play podcasts can be incredibly useful to stimulate your storytelling gland, for instance. Read a new novel, pick up a non-fiction book, watch a film or play a game – literally anything has the potential to get you inspired. Fighting your creative block is a lot about getting your mind off your imminent task – all these pieces of content help you do this and more.Creativepool is a great place to start. You can connect with fellow creatives to learn more about their work and what they are doing. You can take a look through your timeline to see what’s trending. You can put projects and pictures in your ‘inspiration pools’, building mood boards that can help you get inspired later. You can even use our Project Search function on our Talent and Companies pages to find some inspirational work based on your chosen keywords. Just get exploring; there’s plenty of options to help you overcome your creative block!
This stunning artwork was crafted by Freelance Graphic Designer Luke 'Wengles' James.
5. Assess your work-life balance
Sometimes your creative block can be a sign that something more serious is going on in your life. Maybe you’re working too much, you’re too stressed, or you simply don’t like some parts of your job anymore. Maybe you need a break, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your career altogether.
Don’t be afraid to listen to your inner voice. If you feel like you’re approaching burnout, it’s time to unplug, take a break and examine your work-life balance. Do you have enough time to enjoy your own passions? Are you doing exactly what you wanted to do? Are you spending enough time with your friends and loved ones?
If you answered no to any of these questions, there’s likely to be something that you can change to improve your situation right now – be it take a long holiday to reconfigure or find a new creative job. Take care of yourself first and foremost, and make sure you’re happy before embarking on a new project. Your own mental health should always come first.