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Overcome Creative Block: Artist’s Guide

One of the worst possible scenarios for an artist is experiencing creative blocks. No inspirations, unable to produce visual imagery in the head on what to paint, unproductivity. Being trapped inside your own head. No matter how good you are, it happens from time to time. In this article, we will discuss what can cause this as well as ways of overcoming your creative block.

Abstract art as a form of therapy

Sitting down in front of your canvas or sketchbook, unable to think of what to sketch and what to paint, your imaginative fuel has run out and the best thing that could possibly happen for you is to have a creative breakthrough. 

Have you ever stared at a page of paper or blank canvas because you simply don’t have an image in your head, you don’t have any sources of inspiration at the moment, and at some point, you feel like you’re about to quit? This is what having a creative block feels like and it’s inevitable for everyone, especially artists.

Creative block is basically a struggling artist’s nightmare. It happens to everyone a lot of times. So if you’re experiencing this right now, don’t worry because a lot of creative people get stuck inside their own box every now and then. But, before we further the discussion, let’s define what creative block really is. In simple terms, it is the inability of a person to access their inner creativity.

This topic is more relevant than ever considering that we’re living in a time of pandemic. We really can’t go outside so we have limited sources of inspiration, our normal lives have been taken away and it’s stressful. Overcoming your creative block can be really draining and frustrating. Take a deep breath, look around you, engage yourself in helpful activities and read this article to know more about this artistic nightmare.

The Psychology Behind Creative Blocks
Wrinkled up paper on a table

Creative blocks do not happen with no reason, there is actually a psychological explanation behind them. For some, they think that they’re struggling with creativity simply because they “don’t feel like it” or they just don’t have enough inspirations to make art. These can be true, however, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Creative blocks can be a sign of inexplicit psychological and emotional issues.

Knowing the reason behind what causes your creative block is very important since this can help you overcome it and eventually break the walls that stop you from thinking outside the box. 

Common Causes behind Creative Block:
A man having a bad day

  1. Self-criticism
  2. Self-doubt and negativity
  3. Fear of failure
  4. Perfectionism
  5. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  6. Work stress
  7. Exhaustion due to overworking on your previous artworks
  8. Bereavement 
  9. Financial distress
  10. Rejection of one’s own work
  11. Sudden lack of purpose in creating art
  12. Gradually losing interest in one’s passion

These are just the common causes of creative block. Yours may not be included in the list so identifying what causes your artistic drain is a stepping stone to overcoming your creative block.

The Key to Overcoming Your Creative Block:

  1. Know the underlying causes of your creative block:

    As you identify the underlying causes behind your creative block, it is also important to understand that what works for others may not work for you. The key to refueling one’s artistic energy and imagination differs from artist to artist. Moreover, it is important to know that overcoming this drain of creativity doesn’t happen in one snap. It requires plenty of patience and lots of self-discovery.
    A woman and abstract paintings on the floor

  2. Don’t be afraid to give yourself time:

    It was mentioned earlier in this article that exhaustion due to overworking on your art can lead to creative block. Try to distance yourself and take a break. Once your mind is all set and clear, then it’s time to go back to where you belong: doing art.
    Woman looking at drawings on the floor

  3. Widen Your Horizons:

    Think outside the box. Experiment. Try to do things you haven’t done before. Do not try to reproduce something you did in the past and expect the same results. Look up to other creative disciplines unfamiliar to you. Watch art videos online. Mix up your medium, the world of art has endless possibilities. Follow your own rules while trying to discover another unique style.
    A female artist standing up and looking at her painting

  4. Take care of your emotional and mental health:

    A healthy mind is a happy mind. Mental drain, fatigue and troubled emotions can drain your creativity. You don’t wanna burn out so the best you can do is have a little me time. Reflect on life, take breathing exercises and process your thoughts. Having balance between your emotions and mental health can help you overcome your creative block.
    Woman with colorful paints on face lying on bed with sketchbook

  5. Immerse yourself in different environments:

    Inspirations can come from anywhere. Try to shake things up by working outside the place where you usually do your art project (i.e. bedroom, art studio). Go see the beauty of nature. Explore around your neighborhood and take pictures. Go to the park. Read (or borrow) art-related books from the local library. Explore local murals.
    A small town filled with wall graffiti

    Reminder: Wear your face mask when you’re outside 🙂 

  6. Be gentle on yourself:

    Self-criticism and self-doubt are our biggest enemy in creativity. This is very important to understand, especially for beginners. Soften the inner critic and perfectionist in you by being kind to yourself and learning to manage your expectations when you produce artworks. Besides, what you produce is not as important as you think it is, the fact that you produced something and you enjoyed the process is way more important.
    Focused architect drawing on paper in studio

  7. Practice:

    Unsure on what to create? Instead of burdening yourself to create something when you’re really out of your creative fuel, try to practice instead. Do random brushstrokes. Practice sketching and shading. Try to learn a new skill like lettering or calligraphy. Do abstract art.
    Three abstract paintings on the floor

From Creative Block to Creative Breakthrough

If your creative fuel has been reignited by reading this article, it’s time for you to grab your mediums and create a work of art. Remember to not stress yourself and take breaks every now and then. If ideas start to pop in your head simultaneously, jot them down so that you won’t forget about them. Moreover, always have fun when doing art because that’s the very essence of it.

 

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